Hiram Brock Helton
Serena (Osborne) Helton
"Barbourville Mountain Advocate Online"
Wednesday, January 10, 2001
"Corbin Times-Tribune Online"
July 13, 2004
...by Bert Scent, Advocate Photography Editor
Circuit Court Clerk, GREG HELTON was sworn in
by Circuit Judge Roderick Messer, Jr., on Monday in
the Knox County Circuit Courtroom of the Knox County
Courthouse. Helton, who was unopposed in his second
race for the seat of Circuit Court Clerk is a
Barbourville High School graduate. Helton just began
his seventh year as Clerk. His office hours are
Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
and on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Greg is the son of Beve and Pauline Helton of
Barbourville and is married to Marcetta Smith, the
daughter of Earl and Betty Smith. Greg and Marcetta
have a daughter, Alex and they live in Barbourville.
The circuit court clerks serve both the circuit and
district courts. They are elected on a partisan
basis for six-year terms. One clerk is elected from
each county. They are the administrative and clerical
officers of the judicial system. They are prohibited
from practicing law. To seek the office of circuit
court clerk, a person must be at least 21 years old,
a citizen of the state of Kentucky, a resident of the
state of Kentucky for at least two years and a
resident of the county for at least one year prior to
taking office. The candidates must pass a competency
examination given by the Administrative Office of the
Courts to seek the office of circuit court clerk.
Responsibilities of the circuit court clerks are
preparing bonds and approving sureties thereon;
administering oaths and affidavits; maintaining
records, files and dockets; collecting fees, fines
and bond money; and paying jurors, commissioners and
witnesses. They also issue driver licenses, summons
jurors and operate tape recording equipment. In the
absence of all judicial officers, the circuit clerk
may issue warrants prepared by the Commonwealth
or County Attorney.
... by Fred Petke, Staff Writer
In January 1978,
Lewis B. Hopper opened his first courtroom. It wasn't much:
a green National Guard tent set in a vacant lot a couple blocks from the
Knox County Courthouse. The furnishings were scrounged any way possible:
folding wooden chairs, a construction-type heater and a desk to serve as the
bench. For 11 days, some with snow on the ground, Hopper held the first
sessions of Knox County's new district court as implemented by the state the
year before to eliminate the county courts. Hopper wasn't alone; 35 other
new district judges couldn't get into the courthouses at first, whether due
to local resistance or a lack of negotiated rent for courthouse space with
the state. The tent started Hopper's career as a judge in Knox County,
moving up to circuit court in 1984 and being re-elected twice. Last week,
Hopper retired from his established post, nearly four months after having a
stroke. "It was time," Hopper said Friday. "A whole lot of my buddies around
the state have done the same. I was getting to be one of the deans. I was
second place in the state for longevity." Since March, Hopper kept busy with
some office work but never returned to the bench. A number of special
judges, including those in and out of the Tri-County, have handled the court
days and trials as needed, along with Hopper's counterpart, Roderick Messer.
Messer, in his 12th year as a circuit judge in Knox and Laurel counties,
prosecuted cases before Hopper as an assistant county attorney in district
court until 1984, when Hopper was elected as a circuit judge. Eight years
later, Messer was elected to the circuit judgeship as well. "The fact is he
and I have been close friends for so long," Messer said. "We didn't have any
friction between us. Talking with judges around the state, I think that was
unusual." Hopper has always been outgoing on the bench, often telling
stories or jokes to the jurors during a break in a trial. He's also been
around long enough to see the children of defendants from his district court
days appear before him in circuit court, he said. "It's amazing," he said.
"It's not a reunion, but you become very familiar with a certain segment of
the population." His longevity on the bench provided familiarity to both
defendants and the attorneys trying cases before him. "When you've had a
judge that's kind of an institution... it moves the cases along," public
defender Roger Gibbs said. "You know (his) general pattern, everyone knows
what a case is worth." Former commonwealth's attorney Tom Handy spent much
of his career trying cases before Hopper. "His rulings were determined by
what happened in court and not influenced by other considerations," Handy
said. "He let the lawyers practice their cases without interjecting himself
into the cases.' "I tried a lot of cases in front of Judge Hopper," Gibbs
said. "He was not a pro-defense judge by any stretch. He certainly
understood when you had a jury issue. He's somebody good to sit down and
talk about a case. I consider him a trial lawyer's trial judge."
Hopper's last trial was a couple weeks before his stroke, an assault and
unlawful imprisonment case where both defendants were convicted. Dozens
of murder trials alone were tried before Hopper's bench, including
Donald Harvey, the so-called 'Angel of Death' who confessed to killing
eight people while he worked at Marymount Medical Center.
Hopper sentenced Harvey to eight consecutive life sentences.
"In November, Hopper's successor will be elected to serve the remaining
two years of his present seven-year term," Knox Circuit Clerk Greg Helton
said. "Lewis is a great judge," Helton said. "We're going to miss him
terribly. I tried to talk him out of retiring, but it didn't work and
I don't blame him."
Still, the time has come. Hopper's immediate plans call for taking about
three months off for the first time in his life. The rest remains to be seen.
"The phone still rings in the wee hours, with people looking for help
or advice with a legal situation from the judge," he said. "After 26 and
a half years, Hopper's having to say 'I'm not the judge anymore'."
"It takes a while to adjust," Hopper said. "I kinda think I'm going to like
(retirement). Being a judge is a stressful job. In the position, you feel
like you're making a difference in the community. It's ever-changing."
is the son of Harry &Bitty(Black) Hopper
grandson of Walter &Mariam(Faulkner) Hopper
g-grandson of A.B. &Susan(Gilbert) Hopper
Blackgrove &Nancy(Gilbert) Hopper
career in the army, attained rank of Lieutenant Colonel
by the time he returned to Barbourville for a year in
1959-60 to finish his college work at Union College;
commander at Quemoy and Matzu during the 1954
crisis in the Formosan Straits.
"Lt. Col. Carl Helton,
a senior, was presented at convocation exercises the
Commendation Ribbon and Medal Pendant.
The citation from the Secretary of the Army read:
'Serving as Chief of the Matsu Defense Command at the
height of the Quemoy Crisis, Colonel Helton developed and
recommended important revisions to the Matsu Defense
Command which contributed materially to the successful defense
of the Matsu complex against Chinese Communist threats.'
"Colonel Helton began his work at Union College in 1939-1940
and continued again in 1946-1948. He is scheduled to graduate
in January, 1960, with a major in business."
with other Jarvis' at our website.
The following is info on her parents and siblings,
collected from assorted sources:
son of Fayette &Ellen(Jones) Jarvis
b: 30 Jun 1890
d: 06 Aug 1968
buried: New Bethel Cemetery, Knox Co, KY
m: ELIZA ELLEN JONES, on 20 Jul 1910
b: 14 Nov 1892
of the overall
Cobb-Sasser Family Lineage Website
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