Gov. Beshear: "No More Highly-Qualified Person" than Judge Olu Stevens
LOUISVILLE, Ky. On Wednesday November 27, 2013, Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens made the following statement to the men of the Expanded Horizons Project docket:
“People ask me what is the goal of the Expanded Horizons Project? What is the EHP all about? I tell them that some people approach things without focus on what it takes to complete a task. They want to achieve the ends. Yesterday. They don’t want to do the work. Some of you were asking me on the first day when it was going to be over. You were making excuses about not being able to attend on a monthly basis. You’re losing focus. That’s why we have you establish goals and have you let us know what steps you intend to take to achieve your goals. And then we will follow up with you to make sure you have completed the steps you have identified. I believe there is some purpose for your existence. You just have to find it.
I once heard a speech about the dash. The dash represents the period of time between the day you are born and the day you die. The question for us all is what are you going to do with your dash? The EHP is about answering that question. The EHP is not about temporary solutions. It is about permanent employment and permanent fixes in your life. It is about a life free of drugs, crime, courts and lawyers. That is what the EHP is about. And we will proceed in a manner described in the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. The case refers to implementing a strategy “with all deliberate speed.” It doesn’t necessarily mean quickly. It really means cautiously. “With all deliberate speed” conveys the urgency of the task, but acknowledges that the hill is steep. The task is not going to be accomplished overnight, but we will proceed in a manner that is efficient, understanding the urgency of the task. That is what the EHP is all about. But you must stick with us. You must demonstrate dedication to the task.
One of the things we will be doing is hearing from people that have knowledge about particular areas and they will impart things on you. These things will be part of your toolboxes for success. As part of the EHP, you will hear from successful people, learn from them, question them and then implement those things in your own lives.”
Aren’t judges exempt from jury duty? No, judges are called for jury duty like everyone else. Next week will be my second term of service since I was appointed in 2009. I have had a federal judge on my jury panel twice and an administrative law judge.
Why do you think it’s important for judges to serve on jury duty? Well, I think its important because I always tell jurors that jury service is one of the most important things one can do as a citizen of this country and a resident of our community. Being summoned for jury service gives me an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is so to speak. I think it is important for everyone to see me participating like everyone else. People are sacrificing their personal or professional time to serve. Judges should do the same.
What are you most looking forward to as a juror? I am looking forward to being called up to Circuit Court as part of a panel and participating in the voir dire process. The last time I served, I was never called up to a courtroom. During the past four and a half years, I have learned so much about the process. It will be interesting to see what it is like from a different perspective.
Have you told any of your colleagues you will be serving? And what do they think about it? Yes, I have. I also posted it on Facebook because I thought it important to let people know I can be called like they can. My colleagues think its great. Very few of them have ever been called, but I understand one of my colleagues actually served on a jury. She is my hero! That would be an unbelievable experience.
What are some of the more interesting aspects of jury selection? Well, as a juror, I will likely not be privy to some of the interesting discussions about cause and what we call peremptory strikes. In short, the fact that I am a judge is not a sufficient reason to strike me for cause. There may be other reasons that would rise to level of cause, but they can’t strike me just because I’m a judge. I imagine the parties could agree to strike me because I’m a judge. When the parties exercise their peremptory strikes, they will normally do so privately and as long as they don’t discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender, they can strike a certain number of jurors for any reason at all. I’d be surprised if my juror number was still around after that process.
Tell us about the article you recently wrote about jury selection. I have been working on a number of projects concerning jury selection. I recently completed an article that will run in the KJA publication, The Advocate. It is about application of the principles contained in the landmark case, Batson v. Kentucky. Batson prohibits race discrimination in jury selection. My experience is lawyers do not raise it as often as perhaps they should because the issues are sensitive. My intention is to assist lawyers in making and defending Batson challenges at trial.
FRANKFORT, Ky. Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens participated in the 2013 Circuit Judges Fall College which took place Nov. 18-20, 2013 in Lexington. The judges received updates on case law and legislation, among other things. The judges also heard from Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr. about trends in the court system. Judge Stevens will be a presenter at the Spring 2014 College.
Louisville, KY. Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens enjoys his job. There is no doubt that the job of a Circuit Court judge involves plenty of reading, study, making evidentiary rulings, presiding at trial, managing administrative issues, among other things. But it also involves community service, speaking to community organizations and yes, performing weddings. ”Being asked to officiate at the biggest event in a couple’s life is the biggest honor a judge can have” says Judge Stevens. ”I am always humbled when someone asks me to perform a marriage ceremony. Every wedding is different and Judge Stevens adapts to the wishes of the couple. ”I think most couples come to me because they would like to keep things simple. I perform a short and sweet ceremony so that the bride and groom can enjoy their special day with their family and friends.” Judge Stevens has performed ceremonies in a variety of venues, including the Louisville Zoo, the FOP Lodge and Cherokee Park. He has even performed several ceremonies in his courtroom. ”I think the most interesting venue at which I have performed a wedding is the Kentucky Reggae Festival. I performed the ceremony right on the stage in front of a few hundred people. It was great!”
LOUISVILLE, KY. If you are looking to keep up with legal issues and happenings in Louisville, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens has three options for you. On Facebook, there is the Judge Olu Stevens page and the Jefferson Circuit Court Division 6 page. On Twitter, there is @judgeolustevens. The Judge Olu Stevens page offers Judge Stevens’ positions of issues of legal significance in the Louisville community. The Jefferson Circuit Court, Division 6 page offers updates on the status of the court docket. This page is update frequently, sometimes multiple times per day. ”We are trying to provided attorneys with up to date information about the status of the court’s docket. My hope is that it will save them time and expense should there be a change in the court’s schedule due to being in trial” said Judge Stevens. If Judge Stevens will be covering another Judge’s court or another Judge will be covering Division 6′s docket because Judge Stevens is in trial. Judge Stevens has become well known for his work on social media and has given two presentations on a judge’s responsibilities in that regard. Earlier this year, Judge Stevens gave a presentation entitled, “Are We Facebook Friends? The Benefits and Perils of a Kentucky Judge’s Use of Social Media”. The presentation was very well received. ”Social media is a mine field for a judge, but I have always believed it to be an important way for me to stay in touch with the other members of the community. I don’t just come around during election time, I have maintained active involvement in the social media community since my appointment four and a half years ago” said Stevens.
FRANKFORT, KY. On November 6, 2013, Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky to file his paperwork for reelection. Judge Stevens is seeking his second term as the presiding Judge in the 30th Judicial Circuit, Division 6. Judge Stevens was appointed by Governor Steven Beshear on July 1, 2009. In November 2010, Judge Stevens won election to the Jefferson Circuit Court by 40,000+ votes, one of the largest margins of any race on the ballot. He received every major union endorsement, that of Citzens for Better Judges and the Louisville Courier-Journal. Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer chose Judge Stevens to administer his oath of office in January 2011. Since his appointment, Judge Stevens has presided over 88 jury trials and has maintained one of the lowest pending caseloads of any division of Jefferson Circuit Court. In 2012, in addition to his duties as presiding judge in Division 6, Judge Stevens served as an adjunct professor of Criminal Procedure at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. The primary election will take place in May 2014 and the general in November 2014.
On the evening of October 30, 2013, Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens spoke to students at Brown Mackie College Louisville about the reasons he formed the new Expanded Horizons Project in Circuit Court, Division 6. He also answered students’ questions concerning the EHP goals. The EHP consists of 15 participants currently under the court’s supervision. It convenes on a monthly basis.
Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens was recently addressed a group of middle and high school students in the Smoketown area of Louisville. Judge Stevens spoke to the students about prioritizing, set goals, steps in furtherance of those goals and dealing with failure and disappointment, among other things. Attorney James Beckett and Bates Memorial Church invited Judge Stevens to speak to the students.
On September 25, 2013, Jefferson Circuit Judge Olu Stevens convened the first Expanded Horizons Project docket in his court. Judge Stevens personally selected 15 young men currently on probation supervision in his court for participation. The EHP will held monthly and focus on a variety of topics designed to assist the participants in becoming productive members of society. Judge Stevens addressed the participants and reviewed the docket rules. Attorney Bryan Coomer, who has assisted Judge Stevens in forming the docket and designating topics for discussion, also spoke to the participants. The next EHP docket will be held on October 30, 2013 at 3 p.m.
On September 6, 2013, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens spoke to the Annual Meeting of the Legal Secretaries International, Inc. Judge Stevens’ speech was entitled, “Are We Facebook Friends? The Benefits and Perils of a Kentucky’s Use of Social Media”. Judge Stevens discussed the applicable ethical obligations to a judge’s use of Facebook and other forms of social media, to include the relevant portions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Thanks to Theresa Vaughn and Legal Secretaries International for the invitation.