“Mel Ignatow: Getting Away With Murder” from American Justice

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The video “Mel Ignatow: Getting Away With Murder” can watched by going to the You Tube channel at – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzXyj4lqvPU.

Twenty five plus years after Brenda Sue Schaefer’s death at the hands of Mel Ignagtow, the public scrutiny and painful memories linger, along with the incredulity of how this miscarriage of justice occurred in the first place.

This is not just me talking, but is apparent as dozens of citizens have attended the Jefferson County Public Law Library’s Public Forum series featuring attorneys and items/issues of public interest.

However, I have already discussed the law library series arising from the murder of Brenda Sue Schaefer in 1988, followed by the jury’s acquittal of her murderer Mel Ignatow, and then followed by Ignatow’s conviction for perjury.  Ignatow died after his release from prison when he fell on a coffee table at his home and bled to death, alone.

Law Library Series – On Mel Ignatow, the Man Who Got Away With Murder, but not perjury or infamy will continue on March 12, 2015 in Louisville


Round Three of the panel discussion on the Mel Ignatow interview, conducted by attorney T. Clay, will be presented this Thursday, March 12th. 2015 at the Jefferson County Public Law Library. Reception starts at 4:30 followed by panel discussion and interview at 5:00 pm.  Please RSVP by responding to this email or calling 502-574-5943. 

Double Jeopard by Bob Hill

Double Jeopard by Bob Hill

The Jefferson County Public Law Library has been offering a monthly forum addressing attorney authors, discussions, and timely topics for the legal community and the public.  It has been well-received and is incredibly flexible.  This part of the series began with Bob Hill discussing his book “Double Jeopardy” [click on this link for a description of the book and a chance to buy it directly from the publisher] on the Mel Ignatow murder trial.  We had the opportunity to catch some of his insights into his interview and writing of this book.  

During this discussion, Thomas Clay, Louisville attorney, who was appointed by the federal judge to handle Mel Ignatow’s perjury charges contributed to the discussion immeasurably with comments from his jailhouse interview with Ignatow.

Attorney Thomas C. "T" Clay

Attorney Thomas C. “T” Clay

There was such interest that another forum was scheduled on February 5, 2015 when Attorney T. Clay shared with nearly forty of the library’s patrons more details of that jailhouse interview that he had conducted with Mel Ignatow after evidence was found of his guilt, in the murder of Brenda Sue Schaefer. Mr. Clay was joined by Justice Johnstone and members of his staff as well as Prosecutor James Lesousky.

We were also privileged and honored to hear from those who were also close to this trial – those on the staff of then Judge Martin Johnson (the trial judge).

There was so much to share that another forum was set for February 18, at which time excerpts of the recorded interview put chills in my spine to hear this psychotic and evil man discuss what he had done.

Retired Justice Martin Johnstone

Retired Justice Martin Johnstone

And now, we have what might well be the concluding discussion this Thursday, March 12th where Justice Johnstone, Jim Lesousky, and T. Clay are scheduled to return to again take a look back at what can only be described as a brush with evil and the lingering reflections from a heinous crime nearly a quarter century ago which still is fresh in the hearts and minds of many in Louisville.

However, let us not forget the victim, Brenda Sue Schaefer, and her family who has endured pain and a loss that should be endured by no one.  When Ignatow’s name comes up, think about shooting up an “arrow” prayer for them and all the others who have prosecuted justice for our benefit and which most probably has exacted a price that time will never heal and none of us ever come near to comprehending.

In 2012, the FBI files were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by  WLKY (click here for the story, access to the files and the two news stories by WLKY’s investigative reporter Steve Burgin).

Attorney Vanessa Cantley on Medical Review Panels

Attorney Vanessa Cantley laid out objective facts and studies opposing a proposal to create medical review panels for malpractice claims in Kentucky. She told a state government committee that the panels interfere with the right of a patient or their families to have their day in court. She provided lawmakers with data about the high toll of preventable medical errors.

Judges: 2015 Group Photo of Jefferson Family Court Judges on Jan. 5, 2014 – the day of their investiture

Back Row:  Haynie, Hagarty, Deweese, McDonald, George. Sitting:  Berry, Brown, Sherlock, Johnson and Ward

Back Row: Haynie, Hagarty, Deweese, McDonald, George.
Sitting: Berry, Brown, Sherlock, Johnson and Ward


Well, I found a photo of Family Court Judges who were sworn in for Jefferson County.

Now, just for the district court judges, and I will have a full house!

JUDGES: 2015 Group Photo of the Jefferson Circuit Judges on day of their Investiture

Back Row:  Cunningham, Edwards, Smith, Willett, Bisig, Stevens, Shake Sitting:  Shaw, Gibson, Chauvin, Eckerle, McDonald-Burkman

Back Row: Cunningham, Edwards, Smith, Willett, Bisig, Stevens, Shake
Sitting: Shaw, Gibson, Chauvin, Eckerle, McDonald-Burkman

January 5, 2015 was the investiture of the judges throughout Kentucky.  Here is a group photo of 2015 Jefferson Circuit Court Bench (not Family and not District).  For the record, I “borrowed” this picture from Judge Angela Bisig’s Facebook pages.

If someone shot a group photo of family court and district court judges, please share.

BTW.  I like to play around with color/black & white conversions, and here is the above photo with a “sepia” effect to give it a dated look.


Local Rules of Practice for Jefferson Circuit Court Under Revision and Open for Suggestions, Criticisms, or Concerns. Due Aug. 30, 2013

Jefferson County Judicial Cener in Foreground With Hall of Justice in Background

Jefferson County Judicial Cener in Foreground With Hall of Justice in Background

The Jefferson Circuit’s Local Rules of Practice are pending revision with a draft available for comment thru August 30, 2013.

Make your comments to the court or post them below.  I received the following in an email message sent out by the Louisville Bar Association, but considering the number of attorneys who practice in the Jefferson Circuit Court who are not members of the Louisville Bar Association (LBA) or do not reside in Jefferson County,  I thought this a good way of getting the word out.


The Jefferson Rules of Practice (known informally as the “Local Rules”) have not been amended since 2006.  A great deal of change has occurred in the interim, particularly regarding the foreclosure process and clerking issues.  For the past several months, I have endeavored to update and ameliorate these rules.  I have been considerably assisted in this quest by the Court Administrator’s Office, Master Commissioner Edith Halbleib, Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson, my colleagues on the Circuit bench, and many members of the bar.

We have also changed the process for filing depositions with the Court.  As you know, the civil rules require that all depositions be filed with the Court.  However, given space limitations, this process was ended years ago.  The amended rule allows attorneys to comply with the rule by filing discs, cds, etc., but requires the party noticing the deposition to maintain the original, hard copy and make it available for inspection and copying by others.

Pursuant to SCR 1.040(3)(a), we tender to you now the proposed amendments that the Circuit Court Term has voted to approve.  We did so only after a thorough review and analysis.  Some requests were adopted; some were not; but all were considered.  At this time, we request that all members of the bar review the redlined version of the amendments and provide commentary.  Please see the attached proposed revised Local Rules of Practice and tender any suggestions, criticisms, or concerns to Eric Darnell, Circuit Court Administrator, at ericdarnell@kycourts.net or 595-4588 by August 30, 2013.

Thank you for your consideration and efforts at improving our system of justice.

I am not sure what your publication date is, but we can change the deadline for response if needed.

Thank you,

Chief Judge Audra J. Eckerle
Jefferson Circuit Court, Division 7

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2012 Circuit Court Caseload Table Listing By County and Based Upon Filings

Jefferson County Hall of Justice

Jefferson County Hall of Justice

Top 5 counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for lawsuits filed in the circuit court for 2012 with a total of 98,774 circuit court filings for the entire Commonwealth:

  1. Jefferson – 16,955
  2. Fayette – 6,074
  3. Kenton – 3,294
  4. Daviess – 2,535
  5. Boone- 2,527

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