Judge Brian McCloud has served as Greenup County District Judge for 15 years, and now he will be bringing that experience to his new position as Circuit Judge for Greenup and Lewis Counties.
McCloud, who is proud of being born and raised in Wurtland graduated from Raceland High School in 1990. He attended law school in Louisville, graduating from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law in 1997.
“And then I opened my own law office in Raceland,” McCloud said.
McCloud was elected District Judge in 2005 and said it is a position that came with a lot of responsibility, which was something he was not going to take lightly.
“Judge (Lewis) Nicholls was retiring, and Judge (Bob) Conley was moving up to District Court,” McCloud said.
Before deciding to run, McCloud spoke with both judges and said they expressed confidence in his ability to do a good job as judge. He committed to running and was elected to fill the position left available by Judge Conley’s promotion. McCloud said it is a decision he has never regretted; and he has continued on to win four elections since first becoming judge.
“I have always done the best that I was able,” McCloud said of his time in District Court. “And I have to say that we have been blessed to have very good clerks, law enforcement and good attorneys. When you have a bunch of good people that do their jobs well and are courteous and follow etiquette it does make the whole process easier.
“We have a good Bar Association around here,” McCloud added. “And the attorneys in eastern Kentucky are as good as anywhere else in the country. Good players make you look like a good coach.”
McCloud said some of the challenges of being a judge dealing with people who have been victimized, and also dealing with those individuals whose legal troubles might be self-inflicted.
“There is often a lot of sadness you see in the court system,” he said. “And you want to be careful not to lose your empathy for people; but at the same time, it’s a lot of weight to carry. The most difficult part of that is that you want to try not to bring it home with you. When you do that it can have negative effects on your family.
“When you can help someone, just like in your private life, then of course it makes you feel good,” McCloud said of the positive aspects of sitting on the bench. “And there are some people who will come up to you and tell you thank you, because you turned their life around. And when that happens you are happy for them, and it makes you feel good. That’s the best part of it. ... If that happens and you have played some small part in it, you are grateful that you helped someone get straightened out.”
McCloud is quick to point out that the legal system is more than just one individual, and that includes judges.
“As judges, it’s sort of our job to make sure the trains run on time,” McCloud said. And in addition to making sure that everything is running properly and “on schedule,” he said the judge’s role as arbiter helps keep everyone within the proper frame of legal reference.
“We’re also the umpires,” McCloud said. “We call balls and strikes, and there is a system above us who rules on those calls. But we make sure that the court system keeps running.”
This can be a challenge under the best of circumstances, McCloud said. And it has been made more difficult during the pandemic.
“COVID has been difficult for every court system,” McCloud said. “The technology can be difficult, but it isn’t just that. There are safety issues, and you want to make sure that the officers and the jails, and everyone else involved, are safe. So, working all of that out has definitely been a challenge.”
McCloud said he hopes part of the challenges to the court system will be resolved soon. But in the mean time, everyone is working hard to fulfill their duties.
McCloud said many of the duties of his new position will be the same as in his position as district judge.
“Judge Conley, now Justice Conley, did a really good job of setting up the circuit court to run well,” McCloud said. “And I believe it will continue to run well, especially once COVID-19 restrictions are no longer necessary. But right now, all the courts are in a backlog, and that’s going to be the main hurdle, getting caught up. And I believe we can do that quickly once we can have jury trials again.”
The new circuit court judge (he was sworn in Wednesday afternoon) intends to tackle any problems head-on in the way he always has.
“I will treat everyone the way I want to be treated, and do the best job I am able,” McCloud said. “I’ll hit the ground running, and make sure the trains keep running.”