Court cases await decision

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Weather delay affects some high-profile cases

By Lisa King

People who had court cases scheduled for Monday when the Shelby County Judicial Center closed because of inclement weather probably should be hearing from court officials – but when is still unclear.

“We’re waiting on the judge [Circuit Judge Charles Hickman] to tell us what to do. He’s been in Anderson County all day today, so we haven’t heard from him yet,“ Shelby Circuit Clerk Lowry Miller said.

Both circuit and district courts were closed Monday, something that has happened twice before, Miller said.

The thing is, he said, circuit court does not meet every day, and on the other two occasions when court was cancelled because of weather, circuit court had not been scheduled anyway. So although he knows how the district court cases will be handled, he is not sure about how the circuit court docket will be rescheduled.

“It’s typical for district – it’s on a two-week cycle – Judge [Linda] Armstrong is on for two weeks and then Judge [Donna] Dutton is on for two weeks, so everything usually just gets cycled back two weeks if possible,” he said. “But I don’t know about Judge [Charles] Hickman’s criminal docket. We’ve been closed two other times before, but this is the first time we’ve hit on Judge [Charles] Hickman’s criminal docket that I can recall.”

Hickman, who was in court Tuesday, did not return phone calls from The Sentinel-News seeking comment.

Monday’s docket included two high profile court cases, that of Marcus Goldsmith, who is charged with murder and also Jose Rodriquez, charged with first-degree sexual abuse of a child – the victim was his adoptive sister.

Goldsmith, 53, was scheduled for a status hearing, and Rodriquez, who had pleaded guilty to the charge in November, was scheduled for sentencing.

Goldsmith is also charged with first-degree burglary, second-degree assault (domestic violence) and tampering with physical evidence, is charged in the stabbing death in March 2012 of Keith Jackson at his apartment at 901 Main St.


Other centers close

Miller said he had heard that some other judicial centers also were closed Monday, including those in Jefferson and Bullitt counties.

Leigh Ann Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the decision to cancel court proceedings was not uniform across the state.

“It was not a statewide closing, they make that decision on an individual basis,” she said.

Miller said the decision to cancel court proceedings is made by the chief circuit and district judges for the county, in this case, Hickman and Armstrong, respectively.

Miller said that he expects that the procedure to reschedule circuit court cases would be very similar to that with district court cases, except he isn’t certain of the 2-week cycle in circuit cases.

“He’ll [Hickman will] give us instructions on what to do, and we’ll do it [adjust dockets] and notify everybody, if that’s what he says to do,” he said. “That’s what we do. We’re clerks, so we handle the paperwork.”

Miller said that anyone who has a court case rescheduled would get a notice from his office in the mail informing him or her of a new court date.

At least court employees won’t suffer from an enforced day off, he added.

“Employees get an inclement weather day; if the judge closed it, they’ll be compensated,” he said.


Options on cases

A clerk said that because Goldsmith already had a pretrial date set for March 14, she could not speculate on whether another status hearing would be scheduled for him before that date.

Rodriquez, 24, of Louisville, whose adoptive family lives in Shelby County, entered his plea before Hickman in November. His attorney, public defender Ashley Bailey, told Hickman that she and prosecutors had reached an agreement, with a portion of the recommended 5-year sentence to be served and the rest probated.

Rodriguez was indicted Dec. 21, 2011, by a Shelby County Grand Jury for first-degree sexual abuse of a child under 12 years old. The victim was his adoptive sister, Ashley Hilger. When Rodriguez pleaded guilty, Hickman imposed several conditions with the plea, including that Rodriquez undergo sex offender treatment, register with the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry and have no contact with either his adoptive sister or any minor children.

Miller said that anyone who wishes may call the judicial center to inquire about his or her court case.

“Everyone is welcome to check on his or her case,” he said. “We had some folks show up at the door right at eight o’clock [Monday]. I was here to make sure things were OK, so I talked to them.”

More information

SHELBY COUNTY JUDICIAL CENTER:502-633-1287, press 1 for circuit and 2 for district cases

CIRCUIT JUDGE:Charles Hickman, 647-5234

DISTRICT JUDGE:Linda Armstrong, 633-4130

DISTRICT JUDGE:Donna Dutton, 633-7359