Politics & Government

'Incompetent hack.' Bevin rips judge who ruled against him in pension lawsuit.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin called a Kentucky judge an incompetent hack, Tuesday, the day after the judge ruled against a motion filed by his lawyers.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin called a Kentucky judge an incompetent hack, Tuesday, the day after the judge ruled against a motion filed by his lawyers. Frame grab from Facebook.com/GovMattBevin

Gov. Matt Bevin went after a Kentucky judge Tuesday, the day after that judge ruled against Bevin's procedural motion in a lawsuit over Kentucky's new pension law.

"I now have the most incompetent hack of a judge — I don't know if in Kentucky, but certainly one of the worst — who happens to be in Franklin Circuit Court," Bevin said in a radio interview on 55KRC, a talk radio station in Cincinnati.

On Monday, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled in a 30-minute hearing that Bevin's attorneys could not depose representatives of Attorney General Andy Beshear's office, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police.

The three parties filed a lawsuit April 11 against the state's new public pension law.

"He refuses to allow discovery," Bevin said. "He refuses to allow any depositions of the people who are bringing the suit."

Shepherd cannot comment further on the case but in his ruling he said he wanted to address the legal issues in the case first.

Bevin was also critical of Beshear, who has been a vocal opponent of the pension bill. Shepherd gave the attorney general advice from the bench, Bevin said.

"This guy is legislating from the bench," Bevin said, "or attempting to, giving advice to our attorney general, who quite literally is not a very competent attorney."

The Attorney General's Office declined to comment.

This isn't the first time Bevin has criticized Shepherd. After Shepherd ruled against Bevin over his decision to restructure the University of Louisville board, Bevin called Shepherd a "political hack."

Shepherd previously worked for Democratic Gov. Brereton Jones as the secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.

Bevin has been down on the state's judicial system lately. Last week, he said "there are many, many judges in Kentucky who do not deserve to be judges" and argued the state needs to look at the judicial system. State court judges in Kentucky are selected in non-partisan elections.

He renewed those calls Tuesday, using Shepherd as an example.

"Judges like this who don't take the law seriously shouldn't be on the bench," Bevin said.

The pension lawsuit is the latest to be brought against the governor by Beshear.

Beshear and others claim the pension bill violated the "inviolable contract" the state made with employees not to touch their retirement benefits.

Bevin has had mixed success against Beshear in Franklin Circuit Court. In the restructuring of the UofL board, Shepherd ruled against Bevin before the Kentucky Supreme Court dismissed the case. The court called the issue moot after the General Assembly passed a bill locking in Bevin's changes.

But Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of Bevin in 2016 when Beshear challenged Bevin's ability to cut funding from Kentucky's universities. The Kentucky Supreme Court overturned that decision.