Daviess District Judge Daniel M. “Nick” Burlew II was first appointed to the bench in 2009, and he’s been returned to the office by voters ever since.
Burlew, 79, would be up for reelection next year, as are all judges across the state. But Burlew said this week that he has decided to retire on Dec. 1.
“I’ve had a really good career in the legal business and have been very lucky,” Burlew said Thursday.
Before becoming a judge, Burlew was a law clerk for the court of appeals, spent several years in private practice and was an assistant prosecutor under former county attorney Bob Kirtley.
But Burlew, who is the county’s Chief District Judge, said he realized this year he was ready to move on.
“I really have enjoyed this job, particularly the people I work with,” he said. “It takes a team effort to move cases along.”
The increase in caseloads in District Court played a role in Burlew’s decision to retire, he said.
District Court handles a variety of issues, including all traffic violations and misdemeanor crimes, probate, small claims and juvenile crimes. Felony charges start out in District Court before going to a grand jury.
“I’ve arrived at a period in my professional life where the dockets have gotten so large that it has taken the joy out of my judgeship,” Burlew said.
Daviess District Court has three judges, but Burlew and Judge Misty Miller have taken over a portion of Judge David Payne’s caseload because Payne is acting as one of the county’s two Family Court judges.
Leigh Anne Hiatt, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said Burlew has notified the AOC of his intention to retire.
Hiatt said in an email that a judicial nominating commission will be convened to address the vacancy. The nominating commission will consider attorneys who apply or are nominated for the judgeship and will select three nominees to be sent to Gov. Andy Beshear, who make an appointment.
Burlew said he enjoys researching case law and that his goal as a judge is to treat people who come before his court with respect.
“I don’t know if I’ve helped people directly, but I know I’ve influenced people to think abut changing, to think about their families and think about why they do the things they do,” Burlew said. “I can’t make anyone change, but I can influence them,” such as encouraging a person struggling with addiction to get treatment.
Burlew said he does hear from people who once were in his courtroom, who thanked him for treating them with dignity or helping them change.
“I’ve had it happen more than once,” Burlew said. “I don’t recognize them, but they recognize me. (They say), ‘Judge Burlew, you really helped me’ or ‘my son.’ ”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse