Sunday, April 5, 2015

Supreme Court of Kentucky: Dual Sovereignty Approach to State Constitutional Law

By Michelle K. Piasecki
Michelle Piasecki, a 2013 summa cum laude graduate of Albany Law School, is an associate at the law firm of Couch White LLP, in Albany, New York, and primarily practices in the fields of energy and environmental law.
While at Albany Law, Michelle was a research assistant for professor Timothy Lytton.  As a member of the Albany Law Review, she served as Executive Editor for State Constitutional Commentary during her third year. She also served as the Executive Editor for the Center.
This essay--the latest of several papers to be published by the Center--was originally prepared for the State Constitutional Adjudication Seminar.

State supreme courts across the country approach state constitutional adjudication in different way. Some look primarily to their own state law, some primarily--and some, only--to federal law, and others equally to both or simply make no distinction between the two.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky applies the so-called "dual sovereignty" method. For example, in Riley v. Gibson (2011), a Jefferson Circuit Court Judge had held a closed hearing to determine if a member of the jury was in contempt of court for disobeying the judge’s order to “avoid publicity about the case.”

In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court of Kentucky analyzed both federal and state law without specifically relying on one or the other. Several other recent decisions by the Kentucky Supreme Court produced similar results.
To read the essay, open HERE.