by Chris Harris
Marcus Vanover knows he has big shoes to fill. Or rather, a big robe.
“I don’t think anyone can truly replace Judge (Walt) Maguire,” said Vanover, who was recently named Pulaski Family Court Judge. “He’s been in service for almost 30 years here.”
Yet the gavel was officially passed, as Vanover was sworn into the position Thursday afternoon by Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton.
Vanover takes over from long-time local judge Maguire, whose retirement took effect in June. Vanover will oversee the 28th Judicial Circuit, Division III judgeship, which addresses issues specific to families from Pulaski, Lincoln, and Rockcastle Counties.
“The most pressing issue facing our courts is the wide-spread substance abuse problem,” said Vanover. “It is tearing our families apart and ruining the lives of our children before they have a chance to make it on their own. I know as the Family Court Judge I will be dealing with this issue regularly and I will focus on correcting the problem, both for the good of each family and the community.
“This problem goes beyond the individual, to affect the entire family and extended family,” he added. “It will be seen in divorces and child endangerment cases, as well as people failing to pay support for their children's basic needs. A strong Family Court is imperative to addressing this issue and helping our families. That is what makes this job so important to me.”
Vanover was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in a decision announced Friday. Vanover was chosen over fellow nominees Daryl Kevin Day of Stanford, William “Bill” David Gregory of Mount Vernon.
“He’s going to make an outstanding Family Court judge,” said Maguire of Vanover. “He’s very level-headed, highly intelligent, and has a good heart.”
Vanover had equal praise for the man he’s replacing. “I’ve worked with (Maguire) for the last six-and-a-half years as an assistant county attorney and I’ve learned a lot from Judge Maguire and I hope I can come close to fulfilling the example he’s set for this community.”
Vanover is filling the remainder of Maguire’s term, through the end of 2014. The seat will go up for election next year to determine who will hold it for an eight-year term beginning in 2015. Vanover said he will be running for the Family Court position to hold onto it going forward.
A graduate of Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law, Vanover began practicing law in 2000. After spending time practicing in Corbin, Somerset and Whitley City, Vanover opened his own practice in Somerset in late 2004 and began working part-time as an assistant Pulaski County Attorney in April, 2005. Since that time he has primarily handled child endangerment, status offenders and child support enforcement cases in Family Court and adult guardianship and juvenile public offenders in District Court. He also handled divorces and adoptions through his private practice.
Vanover grew up in the Eagle Community of McCreary County. His father Archie Vanover worked for Kingsford Charcoal in Burnside and his mother Fontella Vanover was an elementary school teacher. Vanover and his wife Krista have lived in Somerset since 2002, and they have two children, Riley, 5, and Hayden, 1. Vanover and his family have attended the same church for the last 11 years. He is on the board of directors for the United Way South Central Kentucky and has also been active in the Somerset Kiwanis Club for several years, serving terms as their president, member of the board of directors, and co-chair of their radio auction committee.
“I was very excited,” said Vanover of hearing the news that he’d been chosen as Family Court Judge. “I thought from the beginning that I had a good shot at it based on my qualifications. I think I bring a good, common-sense approach to dealing with family law matters, a good temperament in handling courtroom demeanor.”
Minton noted that the 28th circuit has had the heaviest Family Court caseload in the state recently, and Vanover is well-aware he’s in for a lot of work. However, he said he’s eager to repay the trust and support given to him by his friends, colleagues, and the public.
“I am honored to serve as the new Family Court Judge for Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle Counties,” said Vanover. “... I know the job will be challenging. However, I am confident that I am well-suited for the task. I look forward to serving the citizens of the 28th Judicial Circuit as their newest judge.”