Judge's service on airport panel didn't come up

jhewlett@herald-leader.comJune 26, 2010 

Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine served on a citizens advisory committee that assisted the Blue Grass Airport board in developing the airport's 2005 master plan update, a tie to the airport that led to her stepping down from presiding over two civil legal cases a few years ago.

But Goodwine did not recuse herself from the recent cases of four former top airport officials who have pleaded guilty to theft-related charges pertaining to their expenditure of airport money.

Goodwine said Friday that she would have considered recusing herself from the criminal cases of former airport executive director Michael Gobb and former airport directors John Coon, John Rhodes and John Slone if the defense or prosecution attorneys had asked her to.

"I was never asked to recuse myself," she said.

"No, that didn't play a role in any of my decisions," she said. "My service on this (advisory committee) was tenuous at best."

Goodwine, who said she thinks she was on the airport advisory committee in the mid-1990s, said she attended only one committee meeting.

"I don't even remember what was discussed," she said. "What I remember about that meeting was we had box lunches."

The judge said that while she was on the advisory committee, she also didn't remember meeting any of the former airport officials who were charged with theft last year. (Gobb did not start working at the airport until 1998.)

"I didn't know these guys," she said. "I still don't know them.

"No one asked me to recuse myself from this case, and I never gave it a thought," she said.

Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said he never heard about Goodwine's service on the airport advisory committee or her stepping down from the civil cases. He declined to say anything else about the matter.

"This is totally new to me," said Patrick Nash, Gobb's attorney. "I can't comment until I become more aware of the facts."

Gobb is the only one of the former airport officials who hasn't been sentenced. That is scheduled to happen Aug. 13.

Goodwine's connection to the airport has come up at least twice.

In 2007, Comair asked Goodwine to recuse herself from presiding over lawsuits related to the 2006 crash of Flight 5191 in Lexington, which she did. In 2008, the state court of appeals sent a property condemnation case that had been dismissed by Goodwine back to Fayette Circuit Court with the direction that Goodwine recuse herself. Elkhorn Bend, which owned 115 acres of land bordering the airport, had seen a newspaper article about Comair asking the judge to recuse herself from the crash cases, according to court documents.

Still, Goodwine said her service on the advisory committee has had nothing to do with the way she has handled the criminal cases of the former airport executives.

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