The Richmond Register

Local News

May 9, 2010

Candidate profiles: Family Court Judge — 25th Circuit, Division 3

Governor’s appointee, three others vying for judgeship

RICHMOND — One candidate has held the position for the past year, the other three candidates are lawyers looking to challenge him for the spot.

Four candidates are in the running for Family Court Judge, 25th Circuit, Division 3, which covers Madison and Clark counties.

Ira Dean Newman, of Berea, was appointed to the position in July 2009 by Gov. Steve Beshear to replace Judge Jean C. Logue, who was elected circuit court judge.

Running against Newman are Richmond residents Nora J. Shephard and Jubal Miller and Winchester resident Elizabeth Elkins Bond.

Elizabeth Elkins Bond

Elizabeth Elkins Bond, of Southwind Drive in Winchester, is a self-employed attorney who previously ran for district judge.

Bond said she has extensive experience in family court in Madison and Clark counties and has represented innumerable children in the court system.

“Throughout my career, I have represented people from all walks of life with a multitude of issues,” she said. “It is this experience that I would bring to the bench if elected. I am honest, trustworthy and sincere about helping and serving the families of Clark and Madison counties.”

The most important issue facing Madison and Clark counties are the perils that undermine the stability of the family structure, including poverty, domestic violence, untreated mental illness and substance abuse, Bond said.

“I would strive to guide families to the available and necessary resources to promote the safety and well-being of our families,” she said. “I believe I can put my experience to work to benefit the families and children of our communities.”

Bond said she has dedicated her career to the preservation and safety of families and children in the community and would use her experience to continue to promote that goal.

Jubal L. Miller

Jubal L. Miller of Richmond works in the Madison County Attorney’s office and was previously the president of the Madison County Bar Association.

“I have 16 years experience in protecting the rights of the 25th Circuit’s families and children as a prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Madison County Attorney’s Office, practicing extensively in every single area of family court,” he said.

Miller said integrity is the most important characteristic of a family court judge.

“Families in Clark and Madison Counties need a family court judge who will always strive to make the right decisions for families and children,” he said. “I have demonstrated the will to make the just and right decisions for families and children without regard for popularity or favoritism.”

Miller said a family court judge can never make everyone happy, but should strive to do what is right.

“I will always be there for the families of Clark and Madison counties,” he said. “Every case will be treated like it is the most important case in the world, because I understand that for the people before me, it is just that.”

Ira Dean Newman

Ira Dean Newman of Berea is the current family court judge. He was on the Berea Planning and Zoning Commission from 1990-2009 and has been involved in the Berea Community Schools site-based council.

Newman said he has spent his 32-year legal career devoted to public service, most of which has involved family law issues. He estimates that he has presided over 2,586 cases since last year.

“There is no substitute for experience in family court and I have the experience needed to get the job done,” he said. “I have the demeanor, knowledge, compassion and experience to decide the emotional issues presented in family court.”

Drugs and alcohol are two of the biggest issues facing families in Madison County, Newman said.

“A high percentage of juvenile cases involve the abuse of drugs or are the result of inattentive parents,” he said.

He said working with caring professionals, such as social workers, mental health professionals and spousal abuse advocates help make his job easier.

 “I have a community of service providers who specialize in assisting families in crisis,” he said. “Without these experienced and dedicated professionals, my job as family court judge would be much more difficult.”

Newman said he believes family is the foundation of democracy.

“The family court is a demanding position and touches the lives of thousands of our citizens every year,” he said. “The people appearing in family court are not evil people, and each one deserves a judge who respects them and has both the legal and life experience to consider their case fairly and compassionately.”

Nora J. Shepherd

Nora J. Shepherd of Richmond is self-employed and a partner at Sword, Floyd & Moody, PLLC, in Richmond.

Shepherd, who been practicing law for more than 15 years, calls the position as family court judge her dream job.

She said her parents were high school dropouts who returned to school to get their GEDs and taught their children that hard work pays off.

“Because my parents insisted on it and made many sacrifices to make it happen, my brother and I are the first in our family to go to college and to graduate,” she said. “My parents made a commitment to our family that they would do everything in their power to assure that my brother and I got good educations and would not be allowed to make the mistakes they made.”

Shepherd said she began her law career working divorce cases and custody battles and has remained most passionate about issues involving families, especially children.

“I believe my extensive legal experience and my understanding of all types of cases provide me with the knowledge and skills to handle effectively any type of matter that comes before the family court,” she said.

Drugs are the biggest issue facing the court system, she said.

“I will strive to help those who want help by getting them to the appropriate community agencies that can offer them assistance,” she said. “For those who do not want help, I will do everything in my power to protect their children and the other innocent family members from the fall-out of drug addiction by, for example, issuing appropriate protective orders swiftly.”

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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