Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect additional endorsements.

Here come the judges.

With several contested races in the state’s 30th judicial district, it’s time to take a closer look at who wants your vote come the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Keep in mind that these are nonpartisan judicial races, which can make it tricky to determine where a potential justice lies on the ideological spectrum.

To see who will appear on your ballot, Jefferson County Clerk’s Office offers an online sample ballot based on your home address. (Note that the judicial ballot is on page two.)

All listed candidates appear on the Kentucky Secretary of State’s election website.

District Judge

The most crowded field by far, Louisville’s 30th judicial district will feature 20 candidates running across 17 divisions on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Here are the candidates listed by division:

1st Division

Annette Karem

First elected to the bench in 2006, Judge Annette Karem is running for a third term. Karem courted controversy early in her judicial career over a spat with an attorney presenting a case in her courtroom. Karem recently enjoyed a large bump in her “general satisfaction” rating among attorneys who have tried cases before her, according to the Louisville Bar Association’s 2016 judicial evaluation. That LBA evaluation saw her rating jump to 77 percent that year from 54 percent in 2014.

Endorsements: United Auto Workers, Courier Journal, Jefferson County Teachers Association, Fraternal Order of Police Criminal Justice Committee

2nd Division

Amber B. Wolf

Perhaps most well known outside of Louisville for her viral fame following a 2016 interaction with a female defendant booked into Louisville Metro Corrections without a jumpsuit or feminine hygiene products, Wolf worked at one time as a public defender in Jefferson County and was first elected to the District Court bench in 2014.

Endorsements: United Auto Workers, Teamsters Local 89, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

3rd Division

Tracy Davis

The founder of Legal Solutions Group, Davis’ campaign website describes her experience with a variety of issues in both family and criminal law. Davis advanced in the May 2018 primary with 33 percent of the vote, finishing in second place. “Bringing compassion and temperance to the bench by ruling on a case-by-case basis” is high-priority, Davis told the Courier-Journal. “Too many get shuffled through the cracks and end up in jail due to lack of finances, mental health issues, and addiction.” Davis’ campaign website lists her experience with a wide variety of cases, from child support and divorce to drug possession charges, stalking and DUIs. The site also touts Davis’ funding of her legal education with scholarship funds and savings, claiming to have never taken a single loan in pursuit of her degree.

Endorsements: Fairness Campaign, FOP Corrections Lodge 77, Communication Workers of America Local 3310, IUS-CWA Local 83761, International Brotherhood of Iron Workers 369, Louisville Retired Firefighters, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus, The People’s Campaign, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, United Auto Workers and two local Teamster groups

Kristina Garvey

As the top vote-getter in the 3rd Division primary, Garvey appears to be the candidate to beat; her experience with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office and a substantially larger campaign fund relative to her opponent make her the likely favorite, in betting terms. In a past life, Garvey was an elementary school teacher and youth sports coach, according to her campaign website, as well as touting her experience with both criminal and civil cases. Louisville “deserves judges with strong character who will work hard both on and off the bench,” it states.

Endorsements: Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Lodge #32, Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, River City FOP Lodge 614, Deputy Sheriff’s Lodge 25

4th Division

Todd Hollenbach

The former Kentucky State Treasurer still enjoys name recognition from his tenure in Frankfort working alongside the Democratic administration of Gov. Steve Beshear. Hollenbach was first elected to the 4th Division bench in 2015 and followed in the footsteps of his father who was a judge in Jefferson County in the 1970s. He has said that his 30 years of legal experience, combined with his current tenure as a sitting judge, render him the most qualified candidate for the 4th Division.

Endorsements: Greater Louisville Central Labor Council

Julie Kaelin

Seeking to unseat the entrenched Hollenbach, Kaelin has stressed her commitment to social justice and work as a public defender in her bid for the bench. A quick look at her endorsements suggests a bit of a progressive streak, which could prove crucial to differentiate herself from the incumbent.

Endorsements: Citizens for Better Judges, Fairness Campaign, Louisville Corrections FOP Lodge 77, Louisville Metropolitan FOP Lodge 32, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus

[WFPL has an pair of interviews with the candidates, which you can find here.]

5th Division

Jennifer H. Leibson

Leibson, a former division chief for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, was first elected in 2014. Last year, she received a public reprimand from the state’s Judicial Conduct Division for holding an attorney in contempt “as a joke.” Nonetheless, she received an 83% approval rating in the LBA’s 2016 judicial evaluation report.

Endorsements: No known

6th Division

Sean R. Delahanty

Delahanty’s approval rating, according to the 2016 LBA evaluation, dropped 17 points, from 87 percent in 2014 to 70 percent in 2016. A long-sitting incumbent, Delahanty has the money and the endorsements to provide a decent fight: As of press time, Delahanty’s campaign has about $23,000 cash on hand. With a legal career going back to the 1970s, Delahanty’s main apparent strength is his breadth of experience, having dealt with both criminal and civil cases before becoming a judge in 1989. His campaign website mentions his current work with the Jefferson County Jail Policy Review Committee to help solve the jail overcrowding crisis.

Endorsements: Citizens for Better Judges, Fairness Campaign, Better Schools Kentucky, Louisville Defender, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus and FOP Criminal Justice Committee, among others

Lisa L. Langford

Another former employee of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office seeking a judgeship, Langford’s campaign has attacked Delahanty over issues of “judicial hubris,” and she has sounded off against the current cash bail system on her website. She’s also named as part of a core group of officials involved with crafting Louisville’s Law Enforcement Diversion Program, which seeks to find alternative sentences besides jail for low-level offenders. Her campaign has raised a fraction that Delahanty’s has, so her climb is a decidedly steep one from a monetary standpoint.

Endorsements: No known

7th Division

Jennifer Bryant Wilcox

Wilcox was first appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2009 and has held the seat ever since.

Endorsements: No known

8th Division

David Paul Bowles

Bowles was first elected in 2008, winning each re-election bid ever since. He notably helped find a former judge in contempt for that judge’s refusal to hear adoption cases involving LGBTQ+ parents.

Endorsements: FOP Criminal Justice Committee

9th Division

Tanisha Ann Hickerson

In a rare and tragic development, former 9th Division primary winner Danny Alvarez died just a day after winning a tight primary battle. The ensuing legal challenges by the remaining candidates creating something of an electoral imbroglio, but in the end, Hickerson’s case proved victorious, and she will be the only candidate to appear on the ballot for the 9th division.

Endorsements: Fairness Campaign

10th Division

Sara Michael Nicholson

Nicholson won a crowded election in 2016 but is unopposed this year. Her opponents attributed her victory to the deep pockets of her father, Jefferson County Clerk David Nicholson.

Endorsements: No known

11th Division

Jessica Ann Moore

Appointed last year by Gov. Matt Bevin, Moore is a relative newcomer to the district bench. Her most recent prior experience was as an assistant attorney with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.

Endorsements: No known

12th Division

Eric Haner

Haner was appointed in 2013 by former Gov. Steve Beshear and won re-election in 2014.

Endorsements: Courier Journal, Better Schools Kentucky, Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus, Louisville Retired Firefighters, AFSCME Local 2629 and many more.

13th Division

Anne Delahanty

The sister-in-law to the aforementioned Judge Sean Delahanty. She was first elected in 2014, receiving nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Endorsements: No known

14th Division

Stephanie Pierce Burke

Burke has cultivated a reputation as something of a compassionate judge. She spearheaded the formation of Jefferson County’s first misdemeanor drug court before drug diversion enjoyed the popularity it does now within the city’s legal community. Burke was first elected in 2010.

Endorsements: No known

15th Division

Anne Haynie

Haynie was first elected in 2006 and is a member of the city’s Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinating Council.

Endorsements: No known

16th Division

Katie King

The daughter of late Metro Council president Jim King, she enjoyed a sizable war chest in her bid for the bench thanks in no small part to familial largess. While it was ultimately settled as an “unknowing” violation, she violated campaign finance rules when using “extraordinary monetary gifts” from her father. She’s held the bench since 2008.

Endorsements: FOP Criminal Justice Committee

17th Division

Erica Lee Williams

With a higher media profile than most judges, Williams notably ended her participation in a courtroom reality television program criticized for exploiting defendants.

Endorsements: FOP Criminal Justice Committee

Circuit Judge

2nd Division

Darryl Scott Lavery

Lavery was appointed to the bench last year by Gov. Matt Bevin and currently has $12,371 in cash in his campaign’s coffers as he defends his seat for the first time. He recently enjoyed a 90 percent rating of “highly qualified/qualified” in the LBA’s 2018 judicial candidates poll, as well as the backing of several local unions and FOP lodges.

Endorsements: Citizens for Better Judges, United Autoworkers, Iron Workers Local 70, UFCW Local 227 and many more

A. “Annie” O’Connell

The daughter of longtime Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell has over a decade of legal experience. O’Connell has recently positioned herself at odds with her father in her role as a legal advisor for the so-called “Heyburn Nine” protesters. She has managed to outraise and, so far, outspent her opponent, according to the latest filings with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Her LBA polling score trails the incumbent Lavery’s by less than three points, earning an 88.5 percent “highly qualified/qualified” rating from the organization.

Endorsements: Fairness Campaign, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and its New Power PAC, Teamsters Local 89, AFSCME, Louisville Retired Firefighters, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s political caucus

Family Court

4th Division

Lori Goodwin

With a decade of experience working for the Legal Aid Society, Goodwin’s campaign has focused on her work with ordinary and at-risk families. She has managed to raise a few thousand dollars in her campaign, with $2,128 cash currently on hand. She’s advocated for retooling how family court dockets work to improve efficiency and has stressed the need for rapid dissemination of court orders to move dockets along more quickly. Goodwin received a 65 percent “highly qualified/qualified” score in the LBA’s judicial candidates poll and her campaign

Endorsements: Fairness Campaign, Greater Louisville Central Labor Council

Lauren Adams Ogden

Another Bevin appointee, Ogden has only been on the bench since January of this year, making her the shortest tenured judge on this list. Her LBA judicial polling score was higher than Goodwin’s, at 82 percent “highly qualified/qualified,” and she has a slight financial edge on her opponent as well, raising about $2,000 more, according to the latest election finance filings. In a segment broadcast by WLKY, Ogden has invoked the use of electronic case filing to streamline the family court dockets, an idea she shares with Goodwin. She also mentioned her volunteer work with Gilda’s Club and the Ronald McDonald House, as well as championing the successes of family drug court.

Endorsements: River City F.O.P. Lodge 614, Louisville Corrections F.O.P. Lodge 77, and Metropolitan F.O.P. Lodge 32

[Here’s another pair of interviews with the 4th Division candidates with WFPL]

10th Division

Emily Maria Digenis

Following a campaign kick-off last winter, Digenis has raised a massive sum — over $190,000 — and has spent more than most judicial candidates have managed to raise combined. Her campaign website boasts of 25 years of legal experience, as well multiple volunteer and advocacy roles. Her score from the LBA’s 2018 poll returned a low 44.2 percent score, with about 55 percent of respondents declaring Digenis as “unqualified.”

Endorsements: Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Deputy Sheriff’s Lodge 25, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Louisville Retired Firefighters

Derwin L. Webb

The incumbent Webb has raised a fraction of the campaign funds his opponent has. Appointed in October 2017 by Gov. Matt Bevin, Webb has scored favorably in the LBA poll, netting an 88.9 percent “highly qualified/qualified” ranking. He recently attracted controversy, though, over allegedly “botching” a divorce, according to a Courier Journal article. In that article, Webb reportedly filed a suit calling the incident an extortion attempt.

Endorsements: Citizens for Better Judges, Fairness Campaign, Jefferson County Teachers Association, Metropolitan Women’s Political Caucus, Teamsters Local 89, River City FOP Lodge 614, Louisville Corrections FOP Lodge 77, Louisville Metropolitan FOP Lodge 32 and Plumbers, Pipefitters & Service Technicians of the United Association Local 502

Jonathan Meador has covered local and state issues for nearly a decade. He has worked for LEO Weekly, The Nashville Scene and WFPL, and his reporting has appeared in Salon, Gambit and others. He has won multiple awards from the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists, including first-place accolades for best news story, women and minority issues, investigative reporting, enterprise reporting and political reporting. He supports both the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals equally.


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