Local attorney John G. Prather Jr. has been named by Governor Andy Beshear to take over the judicial seat left open by the retirement of Judge Jeffrey Burdette.
Burdette announced in February that he would be stepping down from the 28th Judicial Circuit position to act as a Special Judge, traveling across the commonwealth to hear cases when the home judge isn’t available.
Prather was one of three local attorneys who were nominated for the position, with former Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy Montgomery and Somerset City Attorney John Adams being the other two.
Prather will serve as circuit judge through the end of 2022.
“It’s an honor to be selected,” Prather said, although he said he expected the experience to be “bittersweet” due to having to give up practicing as a lawyer during his time on the bench.
“I’ve always said I’d rather be a player than a referee, and now I’m going to be a referee for a while,” he said.
Prather said of his fellow nominees that they were both well qualified and good options to have been selected for the position.
Prather was the only one of the three to say that he had no thoughts about running for the seat when it comes up for election.
“I am not going to be a candidate,” he said. “It’s not in my nature.”
He said that would mean he is not distracted by a potential campaign in the future, and he could dedicate his time to moving the backlog of cases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he will be going through orientation training on April 23, then be sworn in on April 29. He expected to begin his first court hearing on April 30.
Until then, he said he was busy helping his clients find alternate legal arrangements.
He said he would not be shutting the doors of his practice during the time on the bench, but rather treating it as a leave of absence from his primary job.
Prather has been an attorney for 50 years as of the first Friday in April.
Prather has focused in recent years on civil litigation as well as helping local citizens with important documents such as wills and deeds. He received his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law.