Two local attorneys plan to file papers that put them in a now hotly-contested race for the Second District, Second Division district judge's seat.
Paducah attorneys Craig Newbern and Jeremy Ian Smith announced their intentions to file for the slot this week. Incumbent Judge Chris Hollowell filed to retain his seat in early December. Hollowell's counterpart, First Division Judge W.A. "Tony" Kitchen, filed in December as well.
Newbern, a Paducah native, graduated from Centre College with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He finished law school at Southern Illinois University and went on to work at the department of public advocacy in Lexington before serving as the assistant attorney general to Attorney General Jack Conway. Newbern moved back home in 2010, serving as a staff attorney in the Department of Public Advocacy's capital trials branch.
"I just feel like it's time to start giving back to the community that raised me," Newbern said. "It's always been a dream of mine. I fully expect this to be a challenge and a lot of hard work. I am not intimidated."
Smith, a Paducah native as well, graduated from University of Kentucky before starting law school at Capital University. He served as a clerk for Judge Jeff Hines before founding the law firm of Reed & Smith, PLLC. In 2004, Smith went out on his own to found the law office of Jeremy Ian Smith. Smith said he believes the county needs to take a harder look at DUI laws that are on the books, especially a Kentucky Revised Statute that says judges are required to confiscate the license plates of multiple-DUI offenders.
District judges do not do that in McCracken County, he said, and he intends to change that.
"While drunk driving may never be stopped, it can be slowed down substantially if judges know and respect the law," Smith said. "I do not think this law, or any other, should be ignored."
Hollowell took over his seat in 2007 and ran unopposed in the 2010 election. He was an assistant commonwealth attorney in McCracken County for nine years before running. As a judge, Hollowell has been an advocate of drug rehabilitation programs and said he is proud of his work in the seven years he has been in office.
"I think most would tell you the court runs efficiently, diligently, and in a timely manner," Hollowell said. "We've had fewer repeat offenders. We hold people accountable."
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.