Hello, my name is Marcia Thomas. I am a candidate for the office of District Court Judge for the 54th District, 2nd Division. I am seeking the office because I have dedicated my career to the citizens of the Commonwealth and I want to continue my public service and the work that I started twenty-one years ago.
I have been married to my husband John since I was seventeen years old. We had four children before we were twenty-five, and now are grandparents to eleven wonderful grandchildren. I attended college when our youngest child was six months old and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I then attended Chase College of Law, with four children under the age of twelve, and graduated in 1993. Upon passing the bar I opened my own office and began my legal career. In my private practice, I represented clients in civil district cases such as probate, evictions and cases involving less than $5000. I also represented clients in domestic cases and circuit court matters. In 1997, I was given the opportunity I had been looking for and I began working as an Assistant Boone County Attorney.
I am not a native Kentucky resident, but my husband was born and raised here in Northern Kentucky. We moved our family here in 1990 and it was the best decision we ever made. Our family has been given so much from this community that it has been my goal to give back to the people and the area that made our life so much better. That is what I have done for twenty-one years, given back to my community.
I started working in District Court, while still in law school as a Boone County Deputy Clerk. As a clerk I became familiar with the court system, the filings and the way that the court room was handled by the Judge. Since 1997 I have been in District Court daily and I have been responsible for prosecuting thousands of criminal cases every year. I have prosecuted traffic, DUI cases, misdemeanor and felony cases for over two decades. I have been the lead juvenile criminal prosecutor for twenty-one years and have been working with the Boone County families involved in those cases. In addition, I was the lead child support enforcement prosecutor for many years and handled thousands of child support cases for the children of this community.
As a prosecutor I have worked closely with the law enforcement in our community. I have worked with Boone County Sheriffs Department, Florence Police, Northern Kentucky Airport Police, Kentucky State Police and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, assisting them with the drafting of complaints and search warrants when needed. I have also worked with the people of our community whenever there are private complaints by citizens. As an Assistant County Attorney, I have represented the Commonwealth in Casey’s Law petitions and mental health petitions.
I believe that I am the right choice to fill the vacancy created by Judge Moore’s retirement. For the last twenty-one years, I have spent almost every day in that district court room. I am the only candidate that can go to work on day one and know what is expected when that day begins. I have been on the front line fighting drug issues, most recently the opioid epidemic that has been plaguing our community and threatening our children. My record of public service is proof that I am dedicated to our community. As district judge, I will continue to be an advocate and continue the fight for the safety of our community and the future of our children.
I humbly ask for you vote on May 22nd.
1. In your career, have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wished you had handled a case or legal issue differently? Describe the situation and any lessons you learned from the experience.
Yes. Early in my career, there was a situation that I was listening to an officer explain circumstances where there was a house that they wanted to search for drugs and other drug related items. I was not certain that they had enough information to justify a search of that home. I believe that your home is your castle. To breach that castle there must be overwhelming evidence to justify it. I didn’t let them in. The next day there was an incident that drugs were found in that home and there were children in the home. I learned that you must make tough choices.
2. Give an example of a circumstance where you faced an ethical dilemma or problem and explain how you solved it.
Years ago, we had the prisoners come over for arraignment. At that time, we never had a list of those prisoners prior to court. As they were filing in, I noticed a young man that was a very good family friend in the group. I could have handled his arraignment but indicated to the Judge that I could not handle that case and asked that our office be recused.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualities of a judge, and how has your professional background and life experience helped you develop those qualities?
The most important qualities of a judge are fairness, compassion and the ability to listen. I am a great listener, as a parent I have been listening for many years to stories and other viewpoints. My children have helped to make my ability to listen unique, in that I can listen to more than one person at a time and deal with more than one person at a time. Being a parent has also helped me in my ability to listen to all the facts before making a decision. My life and professional experience have made me the person I am today. I am fair, but firm and I always deal with people in a compassionate manner.
4. As a potential or sitting judge, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
My greatest strength is my life experience and the fact that I have raised a family and know that people are human, we all make mistakes. I believe that people generally want to do the right thing, but sometimes make bad choices. However, I do believe repetitive bad choices, become habits quickly and must be addressed. My greatest weakness is that I do want to give people a chance to do the right thing and maybe I should not.
5. What or who are the major influences in your life and why?
My father, my husband and our children are the people who are the biggest influences in my life. My father instilled in me that I could do anything I set my mind to. There were no barriers and I just had to work hard. My husband is my biggest fan, he motivated me to go to college and then law school and supported our family while I did that. He is always there pushing me to be better and the first one to congratulate me when it happens. Our children, they are my life. I have always worked harder to show them that anything is possible, and it takes dedication to reach your goals. Without them, I could have never accomplished any of the things that I have done.
6. Have you witnessed any particular injustices inside or outside the courtroom and how did you respond to those circumstances? How will you respond to similar circumstances as a judge?
I have been fortunate and have not witnessed anything in the courtroom. I have witnessed some injustices outside of the courtroom when it comes to socioeconomic class. There have been instances when because of where you live, you may be treated differently. As a judge, where you come from will not matter when I listen to the facts of the case. I will treat all citizens fairly regardless of their economic circumstances.
7. Who are your judicial role models and why?
Judge Michael Collins is one of my judicial role models. I worked with him for many years and he emulated what I thought a good and fair judge should be.
8. Describe a circumstance where you took a difficult or controversial position and how you handled it.
There was a situation where I took the position that a juvenile was not going to be transferred to adult court, even though the Commonwealths office wanted the case. I had reviewed the case with the officer and after reviewing all the evidence, found that it would not serve the best interest of that child or the community to treat him as an adult. I received pressure from the Commonwealths office for the transfer and politely told them that it was my discretion and I was not changing my mind.
9. How would you describe your general judicial philosophy?
If I would have to choose a philosophy, it would be originalist. I think that I lean to an interpretation that refers to the original intent or original meaning at the time the statute, regulation or constitutional provision was enacted to any ambiguous words or provisions in that text. My legal interpretation would begin with the words contained in the text, but I would look to why the rule was passed or how it was originally applied anytime there were any ambiguous language or if I were faced with an uncommon fact pattern.
10. What are some of the most significant challenges facing Kentucky's judicial system and how do you propose to address them?
The most significant challenge facing the judicial system is the opioid epidemic. It involves not only the user and the trafficker but the families of these individuals as well. We tend to focus on the user/trafficker and have very few resources for the families. I would like to see that the judiciary begins the quest to end this epidemic by working with those in the field of education. I would like to work with those in the education field and start early with some strong anti-drug education. I want to reach young people and address the juvenile drug issues before they become adult issues. I also want to work with the families in education and awareness of this most serious issue facing our community and make them aware of the resources we have and how to access them. I believe it is imperative that we address these issues early and quickly if we are to ever get ahead of it.