Government Law

Jailed Ky. Judge-Executive Hasn't Resigned; Will He, Like Predecessor, Hold Job in Prison?

For the second time in a row, the judge-executive of Knott County, Ky., has gone to prison after being convicted in a vote-buying case.

That raises the question, will Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson, like his predecessor, former Judge-Executive Donnie Newsome, continue to hold office as judge-executive while he serves his time? Thompson has said he won’t resign, and Newsome did so only after completing his prison term, the Hazard-Herald reports.

While there is a state constitutional process for removing county officials after felony convictions, it isn’t clear whether such action is planned, according to the newspaper. Shelley Johnson, deputy communications director for Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, told the Hazard-Herald that while the authority to oust county officials lies with the Knott County Commonwealth’s Attorney, the attorney general’s office is looking into “other avenues for removal and whether [Thompson’s] conviction is final.”

The Knott County Commonwealth’s Attorney was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Thompson is expected to serve up to 40 months in federal prison.

At one point, both Newsome, after his release from prison, and Thompson were competing against each other for election to the county’s top judicial post, a Herald-Leader article notes.

A New York Times article published in 2004 said others in Eastern Kentucky have also been accused of vote-buying, in what the newspaper describes as something of a tradition in the region.

Additional and related coverage re Thompson:

Herald-Leader: “Federal appeals court upholds conviction of Knott judge-executive in vote-buying case

WYMT: “Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson is in federal prison”

Additional and related coverage re Newsome:

Herald-Leader: “KY County Judge Conducts Business from Jail Cell”

U.S. Department of Justice (press release): “Knott County, Ky., Judge Executive Sentenced on Vote-Buying Conspiracy Charges”

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