Three Somerset attorneys seek circuit judgeship

October 31, 2003|EMILY BURTON

SOMERSET - Voters in Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties will have a choice Tuesday of three candidates for circuit judge.

The seat in the 28th Judicial Circuit came up for grabs when longtime judge Daniel J. Venters stepped down in July.

Judge Bob Gillum of Somerset was chosen by Gov. Paul Patton to fill the vacancy and is now running for election to the seat along with lawyers Mark Stanziano and Mike Duncan, also of Somerset.

"They're both fine fellows," said Gillum.

Each candidate said they hope to bring a unique focus to the bench.

Gillum said he would continue to strive to minimize the wait for trial dates and would work toward forming a specialized drug court in Lincoln County.


"We have got the docket whittled down, much better than before," said Gillum. "Also, we're starting the drug court in two of the three counties (Pulaski and Rockcastle). Congressman Harold Rogers got us the money through the federal process."

Gillum said his 23 years of military experience, including experience in the Judge Advocate General's office, and 28 years of practicing law would benefit the 28th Circuit Court and those who appear before it.

"I've been a special justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court. I've been on the State Bar Inquiry Commission," said Gillum.

Mark Stanziano is a 21-year veteran of law and current criminal defense lawyer with the firm Stanziano and Wood.

"I think what I bring (to the bench) is the experience of a trial lawyer, and a person that understands there are two sides to every story," said Stanziano. "The job of a trial judge is to not interfere with that and let the lawyers tell the story they want to tell on behalf of their clients."

Stanziano said he also would address the growing problem of a cumbersome court docket that slows down the criminal trial process.

"You have to be creative in your use of time ... This isn't a 10 to 2 job. You need to fill the time available," said Stanziano.

If elected, Stanziano plans to spend one week each month in Lincoln and Rockcastle counties and two in Pulaski County in an effort to make citizens feel their judge is accessible.

"There are chambers in every courthouse, and they need to be used. I want to show people in those counties that I do care about them," said Stanziano.

Mike Duncan is a former assistant commonwealth's attorney with 20 years of law experience.

Duncan said his commitment to strict sentences for drug dealers is one personal conviction that differentiates him from the other candidates.

"(Gillum) has tried felony drug cases in Lincoln County, and in my opinion, favors rehabilitation for persons who commit non-violent drug crimes. His reasoning is it will cost too much to incarcerate these people," said Duncan. "They might not be shooting bullets, but they're shooting kids up with drugs. I believe it is similar to a violent crime and these people should be removed from our streets."

In addition to cracking down on drug dealers, Duncan said he would strive to give people full and complete hearings during trials and an explanation of his rulings after sentencing.

"It takes a dedicated person, with a good work ethic, who treats people with dignity and respect ... It's the people who own that courthouse," said Duncan. "I will endeavor to be fair and impartial, to be that kind of judge people in Lincoln County want in their judge ... a reflection of the attitudes of Lincoln County."

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