Commonwealth of Kentucky Court System

  • District Court: The district court has limited jurisdiction over misdemeanors, traffic offenses, and civil cases involving $5,000 or less.
  • Circuit Court: The circuit court is a court of general jurisdiction and can hear almost all types of case; however some are reserved for another court to handle. The circuit court handles civil matters, such as personal injury cases, involving more than $5,000. The circuit court can also hear appeals from the District Court.
  • Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed from the Circuit and Family Courts.
  • Kentucky Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is Kentucky’s court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. The Supreme Court also has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over Court of Appeals cases.

*Some of the courts in the Kentucky Court System also have jurisdiction over certain other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is optional in Kentucky. ADR may come in the form of mediation or arbitration.

Mediation is a voluntary process that involved a neutral third party who acts to help the parties identify potential solutions to the conflict.The goal of mediation is for the parties to come to a settlement that is satisfactory to both sides.

Arbitration is a process in which disputes are resolved by impartial parties in a setting that is similar to a trial but is faster and more cost efficient than the usual trial process. The arbitration decision may be binding or non-binding.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

Every final judgment from a circuit court is appealable by filing a notice of appeal. After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment.

Recovery

A judgment rendered in Kentucky is valid for 15 years.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Kentucky. Should you have a question/concern specific to Kentucky law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Kentucky.