FRANKFORT — A Somerset native has been named the new director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversees operations of the state court system.
Laurie K. Dudgeon has served as interim director of the 3,800-employee agency since former director Jason Nemes left in April to take a position in a private law practice.
Dudgeon, who was first hired by the courts in July 2007 as a deputy director, faces a public agency in turmoil.
Garlan VanHook, the former director of facilities who oversaw the AOC's $800 million courthouse construction program, resigned in the midst of a Lexington Herald-Leader investigation of the program.
Meanwhile, the AOC is in a high-stakes fight with Codell Construction of Winchester over insuring new courthouse construction. Codell, which has built a majority of the state's new courthouses, also employed VanHook's brother.
Before coming to the AOC, Dudgeon served as the director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, a position she held since 2006. Her first job in state government was as a staff attorney in the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in 2005. She also has several years of experience in private practice in Kentucky and South Carolina.
It was Dudgeon's state government experience coupled with her years of experience in private practice that made her an ideal candidate for the job, said state Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton. The National Center for State Courts helped Kentucky conduct a national search to find Nemes' successor.
"Laurie Dudgeon has practiced law in Kentucky courts and is familiar with state government," Minton said in a written release. "She was born and raised in Somerset and she knows Kentucky. She brings a broad base of experience that will be very beneficial to her role as AOC director."
Dudgeon received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Kentucky. She lives in Frankfort with her two children. The Administrative Office of the Courts has an annual budget of $300 million.