LEXINGTON - A federal judge in the eastern half of Kentucky for almost a quarter-century has died.
Karl Forester was 73. He died Saturday at his Lexington home.
Forester became a federal judge in 1988, overseeing cases in Pikeville and Lexington during his career on the bench.
While Forester handled a variety of matters, his most-high profile case stemmed from the litigation surrounding the 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191 at Blue Grass Airport. Many of the suits brought by the families of the 49 people who were killed were settled without a trial.
Friends and colleagues told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Forester had been battling health problems recently, but still actively handled cases until recently.
"No matter who you were, no matter how intelligent, no matter how wealthy, Karl treated everyone equally," said U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, chief judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "I just thought he embodied what I thought a federal judge ought to be. He had a keen intellect, enhanced by common sense and a great wit."
Lexington attorney Mark Wohlander called Forester, a Harlan County native, one of the "finest country lawyers" ever to become a judge.
"You knew that whichever side of a case you were on, he was going to do the right thing, because that's the kind of man he was," Wohlander said
President Ronald Reagan appointed Forester to the bench in 1988. Forester took senior status in 2005, allowing him to handle a reduced case load.
Forester is survived by his wife, Tarasa; two children, William Todd Forester and Mary Beth Cutter; and four grandchildren.