Keith to challenge Abell for circuit clerk: Abell boasts 39 years in court system as key

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By Thomas Barr

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - For Layne Abell, the race boils down to experience, leadership and integrity.

For the past 39 years, Abell has been part of the court system in Bullitt County. After serving as pre-trial officer, Abell won election six years ago to serve as Bullitt Circuit Clerk.

This November, Abell is seeking a second six-year term as circuit clerk.

The Democratic nominee said that the clerk’s office is a difficult job.

While the number of cases continues to increase, the state allocated staff size has not.

On top of that, employees have not received pay raises for three years and now must take a cut thanks to furlough days.

“It’s been a tough three years,” admitted Abell.

And, when he took office, Abell said it was a big task, even though he was familiar with the system. The volume of work is tremendous and the clerk’s office is responsible for serving all the various judges and special judges.

At times, court may be in session in five or six courtrooms, each requiring a clerk to be present.

“It has been a learning experience,” said Abell.

But it is that experience in the job that Abell believes is the major difference between the candidates.

“I know how the entire court system  works,” said Abell. “And I know the people at AOC. I know who to call if the equipment doesn’t work. I don’t have to learn it all again.”

Abell said there are daily decisions that must be made quickly by his office.

“Experience is so important,” said Abell. “There are daily demands in the court system that require quick decisions and strong leadership.”

He pointed to his 16 years on the Bullitt County School Board, including seven as chairman, as another way his leadership skills were important.

In leading an office, Abell said you must demonstrate your ability to provide excellent customer service, as well as attend to the needs of the judges and attorneys.

“The workload is very heavy,” said Abell. “But my staff is excellent and they have had to deal with some very difficult situations.”

Abell has served on the board of directors for the Circuit Clerk’s Trust for Life organ donation program and was part of the project development board put into place for the new judicial center.

But one of the joys of the job is that every day brings new challenges.

“Every day is a learning experience,” said Abell. “Not a day goes by that I don’t have too look up a KRS statute to answer a question.”

Abell said the office has improved over the past six years and he is proud of the strides made.

Some of the new programs implemented over the past six years include: new electronic bookkeeping system; new jury management system; credit card and debit card systems for the public to make payments; new video/audio recording systems for the courtrooms; implemented e-citations and e-warrants in the county; and new emergency management policies for the court system.

Technological advances continue and more are on the way. When AOC makes changes, such as the recent change in the driver’s license equipment, Abell said you have to be able to change gears and adapt.

But he said one thing he hasn’t changed is his party affiliation. But no matter the party, Abell said his job is to serve the public and the participants in the court system.

“I enjoy the job and I think we’ve done a good job,” said Abell. “It is an interesting and challenging job. But that is where the experience is so important. I’ve encountered a lot of issues and problems over the years and that experience is helpful today and for the future.”