To the citizens of the 11th Judicial Circuit:
It is with great regret that I have resigned my position as Circuit Judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit in order to enter the Senior Status Judge Program. It has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of Washington, Marion, Taylor and Green Counties as your judge for the past 25 years, 14 as your District Judge and the last 11 years as your Circuit Judge. It has been a very humbling experience for me and I hope that I served you with distinction during that time.
I have already been appointed as a Special Judge to continue serving in my circuit and I anticipate that I will serve in that position until an appointment is made to fill my seat. There will be no change in service to the people of the 11th Judicial Circuit and I will continue to hold court as scheduled.
The Senior Status Program is an outstanding program wherein Senior Status Judges are appointed to fill in for other judges where there may be vacancies or conflicts in that area. I know firsthand the importance of the program having served as Chief Regional Circuit Judge of the Cumberland Region and having used Senior Status Judges to fill in on numerous conflict cases. A Senior Status Judge does not receive his judge’s salary but rather receives his retirement benefit. To receive this benefit a Senior Status Judge is required to work 120 days per year for five years.
The Senior Status Judge Program expired on Jan. 31, 2009 and 21 very experienced judges entered the program prior to it lapsing. This will leave the state with a very inexperienced judiciary. The Judges Association tried on numerous occasions to make changes to the program to get it extended but to no avail. The Kentucky House passed a bill making changes to the program and extending it but the Kentucky Senate refused to allow the bill to be called for a vote. The Judicial Retirement Board sponsored a bill this year to allow the bill to be called for a vote. The Judicial Retirement Board sponsored a bill this year to allow the judges eligible for the program to defer entering the program so that there would not be such a drain on the retirement fund at one time but this too went nowhere with the legislature.
There have been many changes over the last several years and the caseload in the circuit has increased significantly. Many new projects and programs are not under way. New judicial centers are under construction in all four counties in the circuit. These facilities are badly needed and long overdue and should serve the people in our circuit for the next 75 years. I appreciate the opportunity to have served on three of those project development boards that planned the design of the facilities. We began Drug Court in 2008 and that program has provided help and guidance for many people who are experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol.
I want to thank the many people that assisted me over the years and I will cherish the friendships that I have made over the last 25 years. Thanks for having the trust and confidence in me and for allowing me to serve as your judge.
Doughlas M. “Dodie” George