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Judge Sues Kentucky So He Can Be a … Judge

FRANKFORT, Ky. (CN) - A retired judge sued Kentucky, challenging a law that bars him from running for political office until five years after he retires - he seeks judicial office on a different bench.

Steve Hurt sued the Kentucky State Board of Elections, its Executive Director Maryellen Allen and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Hurt served as a district judge from 1986 to 2009, when he retired from the state's 60th Judicial District. He completed his 600th day of service as a Senior Status Special Judge in December 2013, shortly before filing his petition for nomination for Circuit Judge in the state's 40th Judicial Circuit.

But Kentucky House Bill 427, passed in the spring of 2013, states that "a judge who elected to retire as a Senior Status Special Judge ... shall not become a candidate or a nominee for any elected office during the five (5) year term prescribed in KRS 21.580(1)(a)a, regardless of the number of days served by the judge acting as Senior Status Special Judge."

Hurt claims the law violates Kentucky's constitution, which requires that a candidate for an elected judicial position be a U.S. citizen, a licensed attorney who has practiced law in the state for at least 8 years and lives in the district where he or she runs for election.

Hurt claims he meets all the criteria mentioned in the state constitution, which says nothing about a waiting period.

He seeks an injunction preventing enforcement of HB 427, and allowing him to run on the 2014 ballot. He claims HB 427 violates the Kentucky Constitution and federal equal protection laws.

He is represented by James Deckard of Hurt, Crosbie and May in Lexington.

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