Ky. R. Sup. Ct. 1.040

As amended through March 4, 2024
Rule SCR 1.040 - The circuit and district courts
(1)Territorial assignment.

All judicial proceedings at the trial level shall be regularly conducted by the circuit and district judges elected or appointed from the respective circuits or districts in which such proceedings have been filed or are pending. No judge shall conduct any judicial proceeding, other than the issuance of warrants, outside his own circuit or district unless designated by the chief justice or by the chief judge of an administrative region. When so designated, a judge conducting proceedings in another circuit or district shall be styled a "special judge."

(2)Selection of chief judge.

Except as may be provided otherwise in the Regional Administration Charter in each circuit or district in which there are two or more judges a chief judge shall be selected biennially by the judges of that circuit or district on the basis of his administrative qualifications, and not by rotation or seniority. If the judges of the circuit or district fail to do so within a reasonable time, the chief justice shall designate the chief judge.

(3)Duties of chief judge.

The chief judge shall:

(a) Prepare with the assistance of appropriate committees such proposed local rules as are consistent with the Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Rules of the Supreme Court, and as are required to expedite and facilitate the business of the court, including the establishment of times for conducting regular sessions of the court within the circuit or district; submit such proposed rules for consideration by the judges of the circuit or district and, upon tentative approval by a majority of such judges, have the proposed rules published and submitted to the local bar and circuit court clerk(s) for consideration and recommendations; and after a majority of the judges have finally recommended the rules, submit copies to the Chief Justice for review and final approval. No local rules shall be of binding effect unless in writing, approved by the Chief Justice, and filed with the Supreme Court Clerk who shall compile such rules and make them available for general distribution.
(b) Designate one of the judges as acting chief judge to act in his absence or inability to act;
(c) Assign the business of the circuit or district among the several judges as equally as possible and have published for general distribution copies of a current court calendar setting forth the assignments of the judges, the times and places assigned for hearing the various types of court business, and any special calendaring requirements adopted by the court for such hearings;
(d) Reassign cases from one judge to another as necessary or convenient;
(e) Call such meetings of the judges as may be necessary;
(f) Appoint such standing and special committees of judges as may be advisable to assist in the proper performance of the duties and functions of the court;
(g) Supervise the administrative business of the court and have general direction and supervision of the nonjudicial personnel assigned to that court;
(h) Provide for proper liaison between the court and other governmental and civic agencies;
(i) When appropriate, meet with or designate a judge or judges to meet with any committee of the bench, bar and news media to review problems and to promote understanding of the principles of fair trial and free press; and
(j) Provide for an appropriate orientation program for new judges as soon as is feasible after appointment or election.
(k) The chief judge of the circuit court shall also develop and coordinate with the circuit court clerk and the chief district court judge a local plan for jury management and shall chair the advisory board for the pretrial services agency and, as appropriate, submit to the Administrative Office of the Courts recommendations for improvement of the agency.
(4)Distribution of business.

Except as otherwise provided by law, the business of the court in each county shall be distributed by the chief judge according to the following:

(a) The chief judge or his designee shall regulate the assignment of cases to the judges on a random basis.
(b) A district judge may be assigned exclusively to juvenile cases for a period not to exceed two years, at the end of which he shall be assigned to other cases. Cases arising in all other jurisdictional categories shall be equally apportioned among the district judges.
(c) In the absence of good cause to the contrary, all matters connected with a pending or supplemental proceeding shall be heard by the judge to whom the proceeding was originally assigned.
(5)Conformity with precedents.

On all questions of law the circuit and district courts are bound by and shall follow applicable precedents established in the opinions of the Supreme Court and its predecessor court and, when there are no such precedents, those established in the opinions of the Court of Appeals.

(6)Mandamus and prohibition.

Proceedings for relief in the nature of mandamus or prohibition against a district judge shall originate in the circuit court.

(7)Extended absences from the circuit or district.

Circuit and district judges of single-judge circuits and districts shall, before leaving the circuit or district for an extended period, make arrangements through the Regional Administration Program or the Administrative Office of the Courts for a special judge to be designated to dispose of urgent matters.

Ky. R. Sup. Ct. SCR 1.040

Amended by Order 95-1, eff. 11/1/1995; prior amendments eff. 1/1/1989, 11/1/1983, 10/1/1982, 2/1/1981, 1/1/1980; adopted eff. 1/1/1978