Judge Shea Nickell and Judge Donna Dixon address seventh graders in Clinton.
Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham led a tour of the courthouses in the four river counties, Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton on Monday. Judge Cunningham was accompanied by Court of Appeals Judges Shea Nickell and Donna Dixon, both of Paducah and by Circuit Court Judge Tim Langford. The judges were greeted along the way by elected officials, lawyers and students.
After a stop at the Ballard County Courthouse, the judges toured the under-construction Carlisle County Courthouse. The new building will replace the one burned by an arsonist on December 26, 2007. The judges visited the Fulton County Courthouse in Hickman and had lunch with local attorneys in Fulton.
The group then spoke to seventh graders and mock trial and leadership students at Hickman County High School. Among the questions they fielded was one addressed to Judge Dixon about discrimination against women in the legal profession. Judge Dixon assured the students that she had been treated equally in her career. Hickman County Attorney Sue Ellen Morris said that she was one of two women attorneys in the county when she started her career, but now there are days in court with only women lawyers practicing.
Students were interested in the conduct of a murder trial and what the appeals courts can do to lower court decisions. Judge Nickell described the job of an appellate judge as a referee in a skybox who reviews what the trial court does and makes a call on whether they were correct or not. If not, the trial court has a “do –over”.
When the bell rang and the younger students left for their classes, the high school students spoke one on one with the judges. The judges listened to student ideas on their mock trial competition. Several students asked for advice on pursuing their college careers.
The last event in the river counties was a reception at the Hickman County Courthouse Annex for local elected officials to meet the judges. Hickman Circuit Clerk Cathy Kellett and her staff hosted the event. District Judge Hunter Whitesell, Hickman County Judge Executive Greg Pruitt, Clinton Mayor Tommy Kimbro and newly elected Sheriff Mark Green were in attendance.