Fayette County judicial candidates weighed with their ideas for improving the court system at a downtown forum Wednesday.
District, Circuit, and Court of Appeals hopefuls offered opening arguments for their candidacies – giving brief overviews of their experience and floating some suggestions for creating a better experience for everyone who enters the courtroom.
Fayette District Judge candidates John Tackett and Melissa Moore Murphy both said more could be done to guide litigants through the legal process. Moore concentrated on the readiness of clerks, who are often the first to interact with the public.
"Each person that's coming into District Court, they just want their case to be heard or they want to be able to pay their fine or they want to be able to do what they need to do and do it efficiently, and sometimes they don't know what to do because it's usually pro se litigants or folks who have never been in the court system at all," she explained. "We want to make sure (clerks) have the information to provide to the public."
Toward that end, Tackett added that he’s interested in creating an ombudsman position.
"There are so many unrepresented folks that come through our Fayette District Court. There's over 30,000 cases per year, and a lot of those folks can't afford an attorney, so a lot of times it falls on the clerks or the sheriff's office, or even attorneys... just asking where should I be," he said. "And to have someone that's facilitating, like a friend of the court, is something the District Court may be able to use."
Attendees also heard from District Court candidates Kim Wilke and Lindsay Hughes Thurston, Circuit Judge contenders Lucy Ferguson VanMeter and John Reynolds, and Court of Appeals hopefuls Pamela Goodwine and Robert Johnson.