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by Shelley Spillman
Landmark News Service
Betty Springate, of Lawrenceburg, was sworn in as Division I District Court Judge for the 53rd District, serving Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties, Monday June 30.
Springate’s appointment marks the first time in 30 years a district court judge resided in Anderson County.
“It’s an honor to serve Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties,” said Springate. “It’s an honor for Anderson County, for even a short period of time, to have their own judge.”
She was one of three attorneys nominated to fill the position vacated after Linda Armstrong retired in March. The other nominees were Robert M. Coots and Ruth Ann Hollan, both of Taylorsville.
Prior to Springate’s appointment, Donna Dutton, Division I District Court Judge for the 53rd District, served both divisions.
“We desperately needed help,” Dutton said.
Dutton said the caseload is so great that two judges are necessary.
“This is ranked the 13th largest district in the state,” Dutton said.
Springate has served as assistant county attorney and county attorney for Anderson County. She received a juris doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Her legal career includes positions as general counsel for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and administrative law judge for the Kentucky Workforce Development Cabinet. She retired nearly two years ago and currently serves on the Anderson County board of the United Way.
Springate and her husband, Jerry Springate, who is also an attorney, have a son and a daughter, Jay and Scarlett.
Jerry Springate said he was impressed at how quickly high-ranking judicial officials decided his wife was the right person for the job.
“She was appointed by Gov. Beshear Friday morning and she was called by the chief justice Friday afternoon and he asked her when she could go to work,” he said. “They interviewed all ten people that applied, and they asked her when she could go to work, and she said immediately. So apparently, the chief justice took her at her word. She was sworn in yesterday [Monday]. She’s at orientation today.”
Shelby Circuit Clerk Lowry Miller said he has never met Springate, but if the governor and the chief justice and all the others who were in on the decision think she is the best qualified, he is satisfied with their choice.
“If the committee thinks she’s the best, then I’m all for it,” he said. “We look forward to working with her.”
About how quickly the process unfolded – which could have taken as much as 60 days – he said: “It surprised me, it was so quick,” he said. I’m tickled to death, and looking forward to working with her.”
Springate will not be on the ballot in the November general election and will serve only until the new judge elected in November takes the bench in January 2015.