For his dedication to improving both the justice system and equal access to legal services, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. of Bowling Green was inducted into the Kentucky Legal Aid Ambassadors Circle on Friday.
On the wraparound porch outside the Kentucky Legal Aid Office in Bowling Green, the Rev. Ron Whitlock presented the award to Minton during a ceremony.
Those who are inducted into the Ambassadors Circle “embody unwavering devotion to bridging the justice gap for the most vulnerable among us and those who strive to improve the civil justice system to better serve all residents of Kentucky,” according to a news release.
“Since the years that Justice Minton has been on the bench, even before he was with the (Kentucky) Supreme Court, it was an important issue for him to make sure everybody in the Commonwealth, regardless of their income, has access to the court system,” said KLA Executive Director Amanda Anderson Young.
In his 42 years of practicing law, Minton has served as a circuit judge, a state appellate court judge and was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in 2006. He was reelected in 2014.
Fellow justices have chosen him to serve as the chief justice for three consecutive four-year terms since 2008.
In 2010, Minton led the effort for the state’s highest court to create the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission to make it easier for the poor to obtain civil legal aid.
“It’s important for the legal system to provide access to justice for everybody. So as the chief justice, my concern is the provision of legal services to the fullest extent possible,” Minton said.
In 2017, his administration implemented the first set of uniform family law rules. Previously, each county had its own rules created by local judges, prolonging cases transferred to different districts.
Courts now use e-filing and other electronic services thanks to the Technology Governance Committee he created, along with a Compensation Commission to ensure equal and competitive pay for Judicial Branch employees.
A native of the Bluegrass state, Minton moved with his family from Cadiz to Bowling Green as a youngster.
The leader of the state’s judicial branch began his legal journey at the University of Kentucky College of Law after graduating from Western Kentucky University with an undergraduate degree in history.
“In the court system today, we have more and more people who come to court without lawyers ... it’s not just people who we would consider to be people who live in poverty, people (even) of moderate income find it difficult to afford legal representation,” Minton said. “Part of the answer, one of the tools that we should use, is the civil legal aid through” agencies such as Kentucky Legal Aid.