Possibility of Bell and Harlan Counties sharing Circuit Judge

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Bell County officials say Bell and Harlan Counties Circuit Courts could share a Circuit Judge.

Officials with the Administrative Office of the Courts say there is no proposal at this time, but local officials say a discussion is underway.

State court records show Bell County Circuit Court had nearly one thousand case filings last year. Harlan County Circuit Court had a little more than one thousand.

Bell County officials say state court officials are considering merging the two counties into one Circuit, meaning they would share a Circuit Judge.

"We feel that would be a definite disadvantage to the people of Bell County and Harlan County because they wouldn't get the representation they paid for," said Colby Slusher, Bell County Circuit Court Clerk.

Bell County Officials say they were told the measure would save money.

"It will add costs. It will increase the burden we have on the jails. It will slow the docket down. It will make access to the judicial system much harder. It will add costs," said Albey Brock, Bell County Judge-Executive.

"Also the disadvantage we see with the number of cases we have, it would back the docket up. The case load would be greater and it would also require additional staffing in the Circuit Court Clerk's office and the Judge's office," said Slusher.

Harlan County officials say they have heard the discussion to share a Circuit Judge with Bell County but have not heard of a formal proposal. However, Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop says he would also oppose it if there is an official proposal.

State Senator Brandon Smith says he found out about the discussion while visiting Bell County on Thursday. He told us he would not support any legislation providing just one Circuit Judge for Bell and Harlan Counties.

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