Politics & Government

District judge, two attorneys seek to succeed Clark as circuit judge

Three people, including a sitting district judge, were named Thursday as nominees to succeed Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark.

The three are District Judge Megan Lake Thornton and Lexington attorneys Carl Norman Frazier and Thomas Lee Travis. Their names were submitted to Gov. Matt Bevin, who has 60 days to appoint a replacement.

Thornton has been a district judge since 1997 and chief regional district judge since 2003. She has a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from the University of Kentucky, and a law degree from UK.

Frazier has been in private practice since 2007 and is an attorney in the firm of Stoll Keenon Ogden. He counsels and advocates for individuals and businesses in state and federal courts and before regulatory agencies.

Travis has been in private law practice for 29 years and is an attorney in the Lexington firm Ward Hocker Thornton.

The names were submitted by a judicial nominating commission, which published a notice of vacancy last year.

Attorneys may recommend someone or nominate themselves. To be eligible to serve as a circuit judge, a person must be a U.S. citizen, must have been a resident of the state and of the circuit in which they seek appointment for two years, and must have been licensed to practice law in the courts as well as a licensed attorney for at least eight years.

Once nominations occur, the individuals interested in the position return a questionnaire to the office of Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton.

Minton then meets with the nominating commission to choose three nominees. A letter naming the three nominees is then sent to the governor.

If the governor does not appoint a judge within 60 days of receiving the list of nominees, the appointment is made by the chief justice from the list of nominees.

Clark, 65, served seven years as a district judge and 20 as a circuit judge. He resigned in November but has stayed on as a special judge until a successor is named so his caseload would not burden fellow judges.

Clark’s successor will have big shoes to fill. In an online survey taken late last year by lawyers with the Fayette County Bar Association, 75 percent of the respondents rated Clark as “excellent.”

Fayette County has five circuit judges and four family court judges.