Administrative Office of Courts chief resigns

lblackford@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2009 

The director of the Administrative Office of the Courts has resigned his post to go into private practice, the second high-profile resignation from the agency in the past few weeks.

Jason M. Nemes, 30, announced that he will practice law with Dinsmore & Shohl in Louisville. His resignation is effective April 3.

The AOC's director of facilities, Garlan VanHook, resigned Feb. 25 amid questions about bonding practices in the $800 million courthouse construction program he oversaw.

Nemes began as acting director of the AOC in January 2007 and was selected by then-Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert to serve as permanent director in April of that year. As head of the AOC, Nemes oversaw the agency that provides administrative support to the Kentucky court system, including a $300 million budget.

Before overseeing the AOC, Nemes had served as chief of staff and counsel for Lambert since June 2005.

However, his most recent appointment as director was never confirmed by the state Senate.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said that he will soon name an interim AOC director to serve while a national search is conducted for a permanent director.

Nemes won high praise from his former boss, Lambert, and his current one.

"He has been full of innovative ideas," Minton said in a statement. "Even though our time together has been short, he has had great long-term vision for the organization."

A statement from the AOC said Nemes created a strategic plan to do more with fewer resources.

Nemes also oversaw several controversies. In April 2008, the Herald-Leader reported that he had hired the girlfriend of Lambert's son for a job that had not been posted.

Last fall, the oldest son of state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott resigned from the AOC after the Herald-Leader asked questions about a pending felony drug charge in Virginia.

In addition to his record as an administrator, Nemes also has recently co-authored United at Last: The Judicial Article and the Struggle to Reform Kentucky's Courts. He is writing a book devoted to the Kentucky Constitution.

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