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State of Kentucky

History of Reform Efforts: Kentucky

Formal Changes Since Inception

1792
Judges appointed for life by the governor with senate consent.

1850
Judges of the court of appeals elected by the people to four-year terms. Circuit court judges elected to six-year terms.

1975
Nearly 55% of voters approved a new judicial article establishing a unified court system, known as the court of justice, that included an intermediate appellate court. According to the amendment, judges would be chosen in nonpartisan elections, and the governor would fill interim vacancies from a list submitted by a judicial nominating commission. Terms of judges of the supreme court, court of appeals, and circuit court were set at eight years, and terms of district court judges were set at four years. The amendment also created the judicial retirement and removal commission, now known as the judicial conduct commission.