Judge Latham says she was misrepresented about new Judicial Center, has remained neutral on the issue purposely

Posted March 17, 2020 at 2:14 pm

In an article appearing in last week’s Clinton County News regarding the possibility of a new Judicial Center being built in Clinton County, it was reported that a representative of the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts told the Clinton County Fiscal Court that both District Judge Scarlett Latham and Circuit Judge David Williams were totally behind seeing a new Judicial Center constructed here.

Judge Scarlett Latham contacted the Clinton County News Wednesday afternoon to take issue with that statement.

During the telephone conversation, Latham said she had purposely not stated an opinion either in support or against the possibility of a new Judicial Center being constructed here.

“I have purposely tried to stay out of this and not said one way or the other whether I am for or against a new Judicial Center here,” Latham told Clinton County News Editor Al Gibson Wednesday afternoon. “I just don’t think that’s in my job description as a judge.”

As to the report that was made to the Clinton County Fiscal Court during a presentation by Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts Executive Director of Facilities Danny Rhoades, Latham also noted that not only had she never spoken to Rhodes about the issue, but furthermore she had no idea who he even was.

The NEWS contacted Rhoades via email about the issue and in first answering the question, he was extremely vague about the claim concerning Judge Latham.

However, a second attempt to Rhoades inquiring as to why he would mention her support if she had not in fact given it, resulted in a brief reply.

“I have not talked to Judge Latham,” Rhoades told the Clinton County News in a second email reply Thursday morning, but didn’t give an indication as to why her name would be mentioned during the presentation to the Clinton County Fiscal Court.

Judge Williams is a strong

advocate for new Center

Circuit Judge David Williams, however, told the Clinton County News on Thursday morning during a telephone interview that not only was he fully supportive of a new Justice Center being constructed in Clinton County, he was the chief advocate of the project in regards to promoting it with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice, John D. Minton, Jr.

Williams said that while he was serving Clinton County and the area as a member of the Kentucky State Senate, he had at one time gotten a similar project on the drawing board, but later withdrew it after learning that the “local climate” wasn’t supportive of the building.

Currently, however, he noted that he felt it was time to move forward with the project and he noted that there were several reasons he felt that a new facility of this nature was necessary.

Safety for the public was his chief concern, and in particular the safety of juror members as well as other court officials during trials.

“We have no way to get a jury out of the courtroom or courthouse without parading them past defendants or even witnesses in the hallways,” Williams said. “Often times we have to escort juries out of the courtroom and take them past witnesses who are gathered in the hallways and are maybe upset about how things have gone.”

He also said that the current facilities in the Clinton County Courthouse were simply not sufficient in size to handle most circuit jury trials or even jury selection processes.

Williams also said that there have been times when he actually considered moving to other counties trials involving Clinton County defendants and juries simply because of size and safety concerns.

He added that a new facility would include an exit for jury members without them having to leave through a public thoroughfare, in addition to having holding cells for prisoners who were awaiting trial and a way to pull a jail transport vehicle into an area inside the center to help safely move prisoners in and out of the facility.

That last feature, he noted, would also help eliminate a problem that officials currently face regarding contraband and weapons being brought in by the public who would attempt to pass those items along to prisoners being escorted through the courthouse hallways.

“I just can’t see any downside to it at all,” Williams said.