Nunn appeals ruling, asks courts to stop garnishing his pension to pay Ross estate

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJanuary 10, 2014 

Steve Nunn

Former state lawmaker Steve Nunn filed an appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals about an exemption to his garnished pension. Nunn says it should be exempt from paying to Amanda Ross' estate, and he wants the court to return the $3,589.60 that has already been garnisheed.

In August, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ruled that Nunn was liable for $20 million in punitive damages and more than $3.8 million in compensatory damages for causing the shooting death of Ross, his ex-fiancée, in 2009.

Ishmael additionally ruled in October that the pension Nunn earned as a state lawmaker was subject to garnishment by Ross' family. The judge ruled that Nunn's pension lost its exempt status once it was disbursed to Nunn and his family.

Nunn, 61, the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, is serving life without parole in a state prison in Sandy Hook. He pleaded guilty in June 2011 to first-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance.

Ross, 29, was gunned down in the pre-dawn light of Sept. 11, 2009 in front of her Lexington Opera House Square town house.

According to documents filed with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Nunn receives at least $1,600 in monthly pension benefits from the Kentucky Legislators Retirement Plan.

"We believe that Judge Ishmael's ruling was correct," Lucy Pett, an attorney for Amanda Ross' mother Diana Ross, said Friday.

Pett said they would respond to Nunn's filings with the Kentucky Court of Appeals "at the appropriate time."

Nunn's home in Warren County is in foreclosure and Ross' estate has filed a judgment lien on the home, documents showed.

Nunn said in the handwritten filings, filed on Friday, that he used the money from his pension to make monthly payments on a term life insurance policy and to help his daughter Mary Nunn pay legal costs related to her role as Nunn's power of attorney.

He is representing himself in the court of appeals case.

In the court filings, Nunn said his pension benefit "is his sole source of income."

He said his prison account only received a small portion, with the rest spent on the insurance policy premium and "to extend some economic benefit for his children & grandchildren."

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter:@vhspears

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