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Court of Appeals Judge Allison Jones wants to be an active judge, but not in the way most think.
Being called an “activist judge” usually comes with a negative connotation but Jones wants to flip that idea upside down.
“I take my role as a public servant very seriously,” Jones said. “I want to do more as a Court of Appeals judge than rule on cases.”
To Jones, that means being active in the 21 counties that make up her Court of Appeals district, stretching from Oldham County to Lewis County in the east, covering all of Northern Kentucky.
And one of the ways Jones plans to be an active public servant is by tackling issues outside the courtroom. One of the first things on Jones’ list is combating the heroin problem rising up in Northern Kentucky and starting to cause problems in Oldham, she said.
“I want to be a people’s judge,” Jones said. “I think sometimes judges get in office and they get removed from the community. That’s why I’ve been out in the community recently (to change that).”
Jones is the first Oldham County resident to rise to the second highest court in Kentucky’s judiciary system.
“I’m very proud of that,” Jones said. “It’s good for Oldham County.”
The governor appointed the Prospect resident to the 6th District Court of Appeals bench in July, to replace new Kentucky Supreme Court justice Michelle Keller.
Jones will have an investiture ceremony on Thursday, as a more formal event than her initial swearing-in. Jones pays for the cost of the ceremony, but it allows for fellow Court of Appeals judges to attend the ceremony.
Jones’ office is in Campbell County, in far northern Kentucky. She said a lack of available space in Oldham County prevented her from setting up her office here. A tight judicial budget and free available space in Campbell County led Jones to locate her office there.
Jones said she uses the commute north to check in with other judges and lawyers in counties she represents.
“It’s not where a person is or where their office is. It’s about qualifications,” Jones said.
Before being appointed to the Court of Appeals, Jones was an administrative law judge for the state. She was also a staff attorney for the U.S. District Court for the western part of Kentucky and clerked for U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn.
Other judges who have worked with Jones have been complimentary of her work.
“I worked closely with Allison on several complex matters here at the court,” Judge James D. Moyer, United States Magistrate Judge, Western District of Kentucky, said in a statement about Jones. “I found her analysis insightful, her writing of the best quality, and her work efficient and energetic.”
The newly appointed judge will have to run for re-election in 2014, when Keller’s term would have ended. Jones has announced she will run for re-election.
“I encourage people to come by my office, call me, reach out,” Jones said. “I really do want people to see me as more than just a judge.”
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