G.L. Ovey, who served 27 years as commonwealth attorney for the 56th Circuit, from 1988-2014, has been appointed as a special justice to the Supreme Court of Kentucky to rule on one particular case.
“I received a call from the board of appointments for the governor, asking if I would consider being a special justice on the Supreme Court for a case,” Ovey recalled recently. “I said, ‘Well, sure, if I can help in any way, I’m honored that the governor would think of me.’ ”
On Sept. 2, Ovey received an order Gov. Andy Beshear signed, appointing him and an attorney from Manchester. Two justices had conflicts of interest in the case, one of whom is Shea Nickell, who had dealt with the case as a member of the Court of Appeals. The two temporary appointments raised the number of justices to a court of seven.
Ovey began to receive paperwork, detailing the facts and opinions of the case. “So, basically, I had to go back to school, a little bit,” he said recently. “Keep in mind that when I was commonwealth attorney, the last several years, I was a full-time commonwealth attorney, which means I did not engage in any kind of civil practice. And, the case we were appointed on as Supreme Court justices was a civil case. So, I had to do a little bit of reading (because) I wanted to do a proper job.”
On Oct. 20, Ovey was sworn in as a special justice, via a technology-delivered virtual meeting. Chief Justice John Minton administered the oath to him and the other attorney. Then, they went into conference to discuss the case.
“I am very humbled that the governor thought that much of me that he thought I could do this job,” Ovey said. “I was very appreciative that he appointed me. It’s something that doesn’t come along every day.”
Ovey’s daughter, Carrie Ovey-Wiggins, attended the ceremony in which her father took the oath and even photographed the ceremony. She succeeded him as commonwealth attorney of the 56th circuit, which includes Lyon, Livingston, Caldwell and Trigg counties.
“When I retired, I retired,” Ovey said of his day-to day activities. “Sometimes I give advice at the commonwealth attorney’s office, but that’s only if I’m asked. It’s her job now. She does a good job. But, I’m staying as busy as I want to stay. I also am a member of the character fitness committee of the Kentucky Bar Association. I got that appointment this year.”