Ernesto Scorsone

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Ernesto Scorsone
Judge of the
Fayette County Circuit Court
Incumbent
Assumed office
August 2008
Appointed by Steve Beshear
Preceded by Sheila Isaac
Member of the Kentucky Senate
from the 13th district
In office
1996–2008
Succeeded by Kathy Stein
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 75th district
In office
1984–1996
Succeeded by Kathy Stein
Personal details
Born (1952-02-15) February 15, 1952 (age 62)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) John Davis
Residence Lexington, Kentucky

Ernesto Scorsone is an American lawyer, politician and judge from Kentucky. He was born in Palermo, Italy, on Feb. 15, 1952; his family immigrated to the United States in 1960.

Scorsone earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in 1973 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1976. After a year of public defender work, he began private practice in Lexington in 1977.

A Democrat, he was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, 75th District, in 1984 and served for 12 years. In 1996, he was elected to the Kentucky Senate from the 13th District and re-elected without opposition in 2000 and 2004. He was the first openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly.

In 1998 Scorsone was the Democratic nominee for the open 6th district seat in the United States House of Representatives, but he lost the general election to Republican Ernie Fletcher by seven points (53%–46%). Fletcher would go on to be elected Governor. On August 7, 2008, Governor Steve Beshear appointed Scorsone as Fayette Circuit Court Judge. In November of that year, he was elected to the post without opposition. Among other accomplishments as circuit judge, he initiated a conciliation conference process to avoid home foreclosures in Fayette County.

In the legislature, Scorsone advocated for measures to protect the wellbeing of Kentuckians and to ensure equal treatment for all. Among his accomplishments while serving in the General Assembly:

• Co-sponsored a bill to curb school bullying and helped secure Senate passage after years of legislative defeat, 2008

• Spearheaded efforts to improve the quality of care in nursing homes, 2006

• Championed legislation to reduce junk food and promote physical exercise in schools, 2005

• Helped pass a tough telemarketing law, 2002

• Helped toughen Kentucky’s Hate Crime Law, 2000

• Sponsored the School Safety Act, the Children’s Health Care Act, the Financial Protection of the Elderly Act, the Custodial Rights Act and the New Crime Act, which mandated violent offenders serve 85% of their sentences, 1996

• Secured funding in the state budget for a drug court program in Fayette County, 1996

• Led advocacy for health care reform, sponsored legislation to guarantee minority representation on school superintendent selection committees, 1994

• Was primary sponsor of Living Will legislation and a bill requiring insurance companies to cover screening mammograms, 1990 Chaired a task force that recommended creating Family Courts in Kentucky, 1988. Helped obtain state funding for Kentucky’s first Family Court.

Scorsone’s civic activities include service with numerous organizations that support the Lexington/Fayette County community and its citizens as well as Kentuckians’ interests statewide. He has particularly focused on issues related to health care, gender bias and LGBT initiatives. Scorsone has been recognized by the Kentucky Human Rights Commission (named to the Civil Rights Hall of Fame), the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice, the American Heart Association, the Bluegrass Chapter of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and was designated “One of Ten Best Legislators by the Lexington Herald-Leader. He is a recipient of the Charles W. Anderson Medal, named for Kentucky’s first African-American legislator to recognize an extraordinary commitment to freedom and justice.

His leadership on LGBT issues has been extensive and has marked much of his career. He led the legal battle to overturn Kentucky’s sodomy statute and a successful legislative fight against a constitutional amendment to reinstate the law. Scorsone successfully worked to amend the state’s penal code to include, the first time, a hate crime provision based on sexual orientation and helped organize the campaign for a fairness ordinance in Lexington to protect employment, housing and accommodation. He successfully petitioned and helped draft a gubernatorial executive order in 2003 protecting LGBT state employees from job discrimination.

Scorsone was a founder of JustFundKY, a nonprofit education organization, and led the organization’s fundraising campaign that created an endowment of more than $1 million to fund anti-discrimination efforts in Kentucky.

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