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Eighteen Jefferson County candidates for judge advance to November election

Polling locations, like this one at Shelby Traditional Academy in Louisville, are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time for the May 17 primary.
Polling locations, like this one at Shelby Traditional Academy in Louisville, are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time for the May 17 primary.

Kentucky is one of only 10 states that run nonpartisan elections for judgeships at every level of its court system. Judges in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts and Family Courts are elected to eight-year terms, while district judges are elected to four-year terms.

Nine of Jefferson County’s 43 judicial elections had three or more candidates this year, subjecting 29 candidates to primary elections Tuesday. Here are the 18 candidates voters advanced to the General Election.

Court of Appeals

Judges on the Kentucky Court of Appeals hear appealed cases from circuit and district courts across the state. The District 4, Division 2 seat has been held by Judge Denise G. Clayton, who is also the court’s Chief Judge, since 2007. Clayton did not run for reelection, and three candidates ran to replace her.

  • Annette Karem advanced with 55,932 votes (50.6%). Karem has been the incumbent judge for District 30-1 since 2006, and is the current Chief District Court Judge for Jefferson County.
  • McKenzie Cantrell advanced with 41,753 votes (37.8%). Cantrell has been the Democratic State Representative for District 38 since 2016, and is an Employment Law Attorney at the nonprofit Kentucky Equal Justice Center.

Circuit Court

Kentucky’s Circuit Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction, covering felony criminal cases and large claims civil litigation. Four of Jefferson County’s 13 circuit divisions held primaries for fourteen total candidates.

Division 5

  • Mary M. Shaw advanced with 37,844 votes (35.1%). Shaw is the incumbent judge for Circuit 30-5, and was first elected in 2006. Shaw signed the no-knock warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment.
  • Tracy Evette Davis advanced with 37,706 votes (35.0%). Davis is a private lawyer in general practice who provided defense counsel for indicted Breonna Taylor protestors.

Division 7

  • Theodore “Ted” Shouse advanced with 43,063 votes (40.6%). Shouse is a criminal defense attorney who organized a group of lawyers to represent indicted protesters in 2020.
  • Melissa Logan Bellows advanced with 36,131 votes (34.0%). Bellows is a private lawyer working in corporate law.

Division 9

  • Sarah Clay advanced with 40,758 votes (38.3%). Clay is a solo practitioner in both criminal defense and civil litigation, and former public defender for Jefferson County.
  • Nichole Compton advanced with 23,844 votes (22.4%). Compton is a general practice attorney with experience in criminal, civil and family law at both the trial and appellate court levels.

Division 10

  • Patricia “Tish” Morris advanced with 46,973 votes (43.8%). Morris is head of Litigation at Winton & Hiestand Law Group, and is the daughter of late Circuit Judge Geoffery Morris.
  • Dorislee Gilbert advanced with 30,572 votes (28.5%). Gilbert is a former executive director of the Mary Byron Project, and is the former Chief of the Appellate and Research Division for the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

District Court

Kentucky’s District Courts are trial courts of limited jurisdiction, covering misdemeanor criminal cases and small claims civil litigation. Four of Jefferson County’s 17 district divisions held primaries for twelve total candidates.

Division 4

  • Yvette De La Guardia advanced with 40,618 votes (38.2%). De La Guardia is a solo practitioner in Louisville, and was previously a public defender in Louisville Metro for seven years.
  • Lora Chisholm Holman advanced with 33,992 votes (32.0%). Holman is a private attorney with a variety of experience, including a previous stint as a prosecutor in the County Attorney’s office.

Division 7

  • Megan McDonald advanced with 45,714 votes (43.8%). McDonald is a partner at Nelson, McDonald and Shrewsbury covering general law, and was previously a civil mediator at M & M Mediations.

  • Shannon R. Fauver advanced with 32,861 votes (31.4%). Fauver is a private attorney focusing primarily on bankruptcy and Social Security disability litigation.

Division 8

  • Karen Faulkner advanced with 50,468 votes (47.3%). Faulkner is a private defense attorney and firm owner, a former public defender and an adjunct law professor at the University of Louisville.
  • Jessica Stone advanced with 33,129 votes (31.0%). Stone is an Assistant Jefferson County Attorney in the Criminal Division.

Division 15

  • Mary Jude Wolford advanced with 53,561 votes (50.3%). Wolford is a former Assistant Jefferson County Attorney.
  • Claudette Patton advanced with 31,073 votes (29.2%). Patton is a private litigation attorney and former Kentucky Assistant Attorney General.

General Elections

In addition to these nine races, eight other judicial seats in Jefferson County will hold a General Election on Nov. 8: one Supreme Court seat, one Court of Appeals seat, one circuit seat and five district seats. Candidates in the 26 remaining races are running unopposed, including all 10 of Jefferson County’s Family Court seats.

Contact Alex Harrison at aharrison@louisvillepublicmedia.org