Judge Messer

Judge Messer

After 24 years, including the last 16 on the circuit covering Laurel and Knox counties, Judge Roderick Messer is stepping down from the bench.

Messer announced Monday that he will be resigning, effective June 30, to enter the state’s senior status program. As part of that program, in which retired judges fill in for sitting judges who are sick or otherwise unable to hold court, Messer said he will still be on the bench 120 days a year, though it could be anywhere across the state and be circuit or district court. Senior status judges serve for five years.

“At that point, I will be 61,” he noted.

Messer said while his job has been challenging, he credits the people he has worked with as one of the main reasons he has been successful as a judge.

“The thing I will remember most is the people I have worked with including my fellow judges Judge Hopper and Judge Lay,” Messer said. “I feel good about stepping down while Judge Lay is here.”

Messer, who started on the bench in district court in 1984 and moved to circuit court in 1992, said he is proud of the changes instituted to make circuit court more efficient and better able to dispense justice.

“We added the final pretrial date, which has saved the taxpayers money and help the jurors because they don’t have to report to court so many days,” Messer said. “The drug court in Laurel County was the first one established in the area.”

Among the most memorable cases Messer has presided over was the civil suit that came as a result of the explosion at CTA Acoustics in Corbin.

“The complexity and the length of the case made it very unusual,” Messer said.

Messer couldn’t cite one specific criminal case, but said the most severe, especially those involving child abuse, are the most memorable.

“I don’t think you can pick out just one,” Messer said.

While he is leaving on good terms, Messer said there is a down side.

“One of my regrets is that I will not see the completion of the Laurel County Judicial Center.”

Messer’s eight-year term is scheduled to expire in 2012. Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson said because the primary election has already been held, the local Democratic and Republican parties will each appoint someone to run for the vacant seat in the November election. That must be done no less than 90 days before the Nov. 4 election.

Under Kentucky Law, Gov. Steve Beshear may appoint someone to fill the seat until the election is held.

Senior judges, including Messer, will serve until the appointment is made or the election is held.

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