District judge faces challenge for seat

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By Stephen Lega

On Nov. 2, justice will be in the hands of voters.

Connie Sullivan Phillips is the sitting second division district judge in the 11th Judicial District, but she is facing a challenge this year from Jeff Eastham, an attorney from Green County. The 11th Judicial District includes Green, Marion, Taylor and Washington counties.

Three other 11th District judges were up for election this fall, but they are running unopposed. Amy Sullivan Anderson is the district judge, first division, and the circuit judges for the 11th Judicial District are Allan Bertram (second division) and Dan Kelly (first division).

The Enterprise sent questionnaires to both candidates in the contested district judicial race. Their answers are summarized below. The complete answers are available online at www.lebanonenterprise.com.

  Jeff Eastham

Eastham, 49, is a graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. After being an attorney for 20 years, he is seeking to serve in a different position.

"The district judge's office I seek because I understand: that there are no entitlements to this office and I will remember that it does not belong to me; that a judge can never view his or her self as being greater than the person standing in front of them," he wrote.

Eastham added that a judge should be defined by the experience they bring to the office, not the number of years they have been in office. Based on his experience as an attorney, he has learned that decisions affect far more than just the people involved in the case.

He wrote that the most difficult issues facing the courts involve juveniles. Whether they are criminal cases or cases involving abuse, neglect or dependency, those cases can be emotionally charged and must be handled properly, according to Eastham.

The Marion County Judicial Center will open soon, and he wrote that the building will add a positive "tone" to court proceedings, as well as centralize court offices. Eastham said Marion and Green counties are also affected by not having a resident judge. Because of that, he wrote that he would spend half of his office hours in Marion County if he is elected.

"I am a choice that will serve and respect the people of Marion County," Eastham wrote.

  Connie Sullivan Phillips

Phillips, 53, is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law who worked as an attorney for 10 years. She has been a district judge since Dec. 26, 1994.

"I believe the most important duty of being a district judge is to administer fair, equal and impartial justice each and every day, in each and every case," Phillips wrote. "I have a proven record of living up to this promise."

Just as the economy has affected other areas, it has affected the courts as well, according to Phillips. As people are out of work, it can be harder to pay fines and maintain their insurance, for example. Nevertheless, the courts should serve the public fairly, impartially, honestly and efficiently, she wrote.

With the opening of the new Marion County Judicial Center in the near future, Phillips wrote that justice will be administered in the same manner. She added that the center will be a beautiful, secure and user-friendly building to serve the public.

Phillips wrote that she has a record of fairness, honesty and impartiality, and she has been humbled to serve in this position.

"I know it takes a lot of common sense, integrity and hard work to do this job," she wrote, "and I feel I am the most qualified candidate for district judge."