After more than two decades as a Hardin circuit court judge, Kelly Mark Easton is eyeing a new challenge.

Easton, a 1981 North Hardin High School graduate, said he would seek a Kentucky Court of Appeals judgeship.

“Next year will be an election year for all Hardin County judges of the Court of Justice. This includes the appellate judges of the Second Court of Appeals District. I have decided to seek a position as a judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2022,” he said in a statement to The News-Enterprise,. “As a result, I will not be seeking reelection as a judge of the Hardin Circuit Court next year.”

The 14-county 2nd District includes Hardin, Warren and Daviess counties.

“It has been my honor to serve in that position for the last 21 years, and I look forward to continuing this work until the end of 2022,” Easton said. “I feel led now to use the experience I have gained as a circuit court judge on our Court of Appeals, where the majority of appeals are decided in our state. I have been honored by the encouragement of many colleagues and friends to take this step.”

Easton will seek a seat left vacant by Kelly Thompson of Bowling Green. Thompson has announced that he will seek a state Supreme Court seat.

Easton, 57, recently received the Distinguished Judge Award from the Kentucky Bar Association, which is awarded to only one judge in the state each year, regardless of level of the court.

He said becoming an appellate court judge has “not always been an aspiration” of his.

“Over these years as a circuit judge, I saw the interaction of the work at this level and the appellate courts. I came to the conclusion experience as a circuit court judge is great training for doing appellate judge work,” he said.

Two members are elected to eight-year terms from each of the state’s seven districts.

If elected, Easton will be based out of Hardin County with an office also in Frankfort.

“It has been such a blessing in my life to have a job I enjoy,” he said. “I like trying to figure out the correct answer to challenging legal questions. It feels good when you follow the law and apply it to make an unpleasant controversy end. The law can provide stability in what these days seems like an ever more divided and anxious world.”

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1404 or

Jeff D'Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1404 or

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