A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

3-judge panel of KY Court of Appeals sets aside Judge Lape’s order; Dusing is bona fide candidate

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

A three-judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Benjamin G. Dusing and has set aside a ruling by Kenton Court Judge Kathleen S. Lape that votes cast for him not be counted in the May primary election for Kenton County Family Court.

The panel ruled unanimously that Dusing does meet the qualifications to be a candidate, even though his law license has been “temporarily suspended.”

Ben Dusing

The “existing defect,” the judges wrote, “may be remedied (or may not be remedied) prior to his assuming office, should he be elected.” They made the point that “the time to test for qualifications. . .is the time one takes office.”

These are the same arguments made by Secretary of State Michael Adams, the state’s chief election official, and his general counsel in answering the suit heard in Judge Lape’s court. Attorney Brian Halloran had sued Dusing, Adams, Kenton Clerk Gabrielle Summe and the State Board of Elections. Adams’ general counsel answered the suit on behalf of himself, Summe, and the State Board of Elections.

The Court of Appeals panel concluded that Halloran, the attorney who filed the suit to remove Dusing from the ballot, “bore the burden of proving Dusing is not a bona fide candidate for the office” — but Halloran did not meet that standard.

Dusing is one of three candidates who will appear on the primary ballot for Kenton County Family Court (Second Division). It is a nonpartisan race and two of the three candidates will advance to the November general election ballot where the winner of the seat will be determined.

The other two candidates are Terry King Schoberg, a Latonia attorney, and Carl E. Knochelmann, a Covington attorney.

One of them will fill the seat being vacated by the retirement of Judge Chris Mehling.

Dusing was temporarily suspended from the practice of law on February 24 by the Supreme Court of Kentucky. He was ordered to complete certain tasks, which included a mental health evaluation by one of three professionals approved by the court, within a given timeframe. Though the deadline is not yet come, the court-appointed professional gave Dusing a clear mental health evaluation that has been sent directly to the court, and Dusing is completing the remaining paperwork.

The panel of judges participating in the Order Granting Motion to Set Aside Judge Lape’s ruling were: James H. Lambert, Jeff S. Taylor and Kelly Thompson.

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One Comment

  1. Lorrie Hill says:

    Overruled again. Thank you for the update on this tragicomedy. If only it were a play and not someone’s life on the line when these local justices get it wrong.

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