Candidate: Family Court;
Circuit 16; Division 5
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I am a lifetime resident of Kenton County. I graduated from Villa Madonna Academy, Georgetown College and Salmon P Chase College of law. I have practiced law for 33 years maintaining a law practice with my brother, Phillip E. King, since 1985. Over the years, I practiced law in the area of criminal defense, family law, and personal injury law. I have extensive trial experience. I was designated Chairwoman Emeritus of the Kentucky Personnel Board and have presided over many hearings in Frankfort as a hearing officer and member of that Board. I am licensed to practice law in Kentucky, Ohio, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
I currently focus my practice in child protective law. I served as a panel member and chairperson Of the Kenton County Guardian ad Litem and appointed counsel committee beginning in 1988. As a panel member I contributed to the drafting of Local Rules governing the appointment of Counsel and Guardian ad Litems for dependency abuse and neglect proceedings.
I have been married to Jeffrey Schoborg for 26 years and have raised three children. Alex, age 18, is a senior at Covington Catholic High School. Ben, age 20, a graduate of Covington Catholic High School, currently attends the University of Louisville where he is earning a degree in mechanical engineering. Cassie, age 23, a graduate of Notre Dame Academy and Hanover College, currently attends University of Cincinnati College of Medicine where she is studying to be a physician.
I am seeking the office because both my passion and my expertise are in Kenton County Family Court. For over 3 decades, I have worked diligently on child protection law cases in Kenton County collaborating with social workers and other community partners to achieve positive results for families in need of services. I have represented both fathers and mothers in every type of family law case. The family court has tremendous responsibility and power. In addition to child protection cases, the family court decides termination of parental rights, child custody, and adoption. A family court judge makes critical decisions, and with this power comes the opportunity to positively affect lives through fair and insightful rulings. I am seeking this Office because I have dedicated myself to helping families in Kenton County and I believe this is the natural extension of my life's work.
I believe my legal and my life experiences make me the best choice for family court judge. Child protection cases encompass the most important work of the family court. Over 3 decades I have represented either a parent or a child in an estimated 7500 family law cases. The majority of these cases were by court appointment from at least 10 different judges. I have 5 years’ experience acting in a judicial capacity. During my tenure as a hearing officer for the Kentucky Personnel Board, I conducted evidentiary hearings and issued recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law and orders in cases concerning state merit system employees. I am dedicated to the Kenton County community. By judicial appointment I served as a member and chairperson of the Kenton County Foster Care Review Board for 7 years. I have always served in leadership positions at my church and I currently and have for the past 31 years taught Sunday School to children. I understand the commitment it takes to raise successful children.
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.
When I had been an attorney for a few years, I represented a young mother with four children in an involuntary termination of parental right proceeding. During the pendency of the action I assisted the young mother in finding employment, a place to live, and obtaining beds for the children, as a result of her progress on the case plan the Cabinet withdrew the termination action and the children were returned to her custody. Within two months of being returned to her custody, my client dropped the four children off at the Cabinet office declaring she was unable to care for them. I was angry and frustrated that she had given up on the children. As I turned this over in my mind, it occurred to me that I had not handled the situation well. I realized the case had been too much about my victory and not about whether my client was prepared to parent her four children. I learned that in child protective law cases you can encourage a client but the effort to change has to come from the client or no true success can be achieved.
2. Give an example of a circumstance where you faced an ethical dilemma or problem and explain how you solved it.
It is common in representing a Family Court client to work with substance abuse treatment providers. A client will be released from incarceration on a conditional discharge that provides the client completes treatment or will serve the entirety of their 180-day sentence. Under the rules of ethics an attorney has an obligation to protect their client and a parallel obligation not to allow a fraud to be perpetrated upon the Court. There was a situation when I was contacted by the Treatment facility and informed that my client had left treatment. From the correspondence it did not appear that the Cabinet Worker or the County Attorney was notified. Thus, the question of my duty to remain silent concerning my client or to inform the County Attorney. I contacted the KY Bar Association ethics representative for advice. The opinion was that it would be an ethical violation for me to reveal any incriminating evidence against my client in a situation when my duty would be to defend the client on the contempt.
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?
Impartiality, respect for people and patience are the most important qualities of a Family Court judge. By having handled thousands of court cases through 32 years of practice, I have worked in every aspect of Family Court and advocated on behalf of diverse individuals and causes. I have advocated for children and adults of different races and backgrounds and individuals with physical and mental illness. I have developed relationships with my clients by visiting in their homes, driven them to treatment, gone to the jails, and hospitals. Through the years I have developed the ability to empathize with difficult individuals, as well as to work with attorneys, prosecutors, social workers, CASA volunteers, foster parents, and other community partners in bringing forth the evidence in cases before the Family Court. As a judge, I would respect all persons and listen to the arguments on all sides in order to discern and balance competing interests to make the best decisions.
4. As a potential or sitting judge, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
I value all people and desire for them to reach their potential which is essential to implementing effective treatment plans and to strengthen families in our community. My value for people is evidenced by my activities. I strive to help people, both in my work and in the community. I drive considerable distances to ensure children and elderly people in the community are transported to church activities. I represent clients who are victimized and cannot afford a lawyer. I assist families in finding treatment for those suffering from addiction. I help meet the physical needs of families in crisis. I have taught weekly children’s Sunday school classes for over 30 years. As for a weakness, I have trouble leaving work at work. My cases involve children and parents in crisis and I think about these individuals even when I am on vacation.
5. What or who are the major influences in your life and why?
Throughout my life my faith in God has been a source of strength and direction. My parents have been a great influence on my life. They both faced difficult times with courage and strength. Both of my parents taught strong Christian values and practiced their faith and by witnessing and ministering to the needs of others.
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?
In Family Court I have witnessed one party to a proceeding attempting to exercise dominion over another party through their body language, demeanor, or eye contact. If it was my client I reprimanded them quietly, if it was an opposing party then the matter was brought to the attention of the court. It is the responsibility of the court to insure fair and impartial forum for the presentation of evidence.
7. Who are your judicial role models and why?
William Schmaedecke served as a Kenton County District Judge. He handled the dependency, abuse, and neglect docket for many years. During his tenure he helped many families in Kenton County. He never became inpatient or lost his optimism. He believed that we might not be able to help improve the lives of every child in the community but that for the sake of the one child the Court is able to help, it is worth the effort.
8. Describe a circumstance where you took a difficult or controversial position and how you handled it.
When you act as the guardian ad litem for a child, you are often unpopular with one of the parents or in some cases a foster parent who may mistakenly believe your role is to advocate for them. I handle these difficulties with communication and diplomacy by talking to the foster parent and explaining my role and attempt to foster good relations between all the parties in the case. I believe the best way to respond to harsh words is with a kind and well thought out response.
9. How would you describe your general judicial philosophy?
My philosophy is one of strict restraint in the application of statutory law and a focus on assuring that all parties to a family law proceeding are given the opportunity to present evidence. The Family Court judge is the trier of fact and it is critical to sound decisions that all parties present evidence. Due process is best achieved when all parties have adequate legal representation.
10. What are some of the most significant challenges facing Kentucky's judicial system and how do you propose to address them?
With respect to Family Court in Kenton County there is an increased case load brought about by child neglect cases with parents suffering from drug addiction. The legislature recently failed to pass a bill to provide for a third Family Court in Kenton County. While a judge cannot legislate, I can be efficient and use a good work ethic in the handling of cases. My extensive knowledge of statutory requirements in dependency, abuse and neglect law and termination of parental rights cases will enable the streamlining of cases without sacrificing due process. The use of agreed orders for reviews, stipulations by counsel, as well as the waiver by agreement of separate hearings for adjudication and dispositional hearings will assist in decreasing court wait time and the number of appearances for a given case.
A second issue is the lack of funding for services provided to families by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Again, funding is a legislative function but there are alternative resources that can be identified and utilized within the community. Families can be given a choice as to a list of services provided by various ministries, organizations funded by United Way and even the public library to be used as part of a court-ordered treatment plan. Many positive and free after-school programs and children’s services are available in the community and at the public library.