July 7, 1992
John C. May
Crittenden County Judge-Executive
Marion, Kentucky 42064
Dear Mr. May:
You have asked when magistrates assume their new districts after a county reapportionment plan has been approved that reduces the number of magistrates.
Although the new district lines are effective upon passage of the ordinance adopting the reapportionment plan, the reapportionment does not affect the magistrates who are currently in office. OAG 83-170. Reapportionment cannot reduce the term of an elected official, even if the reapportionment places the official's residence outside the district that he represents. KRS 61.015; Anggelis v. Land, Ky., 371 S.W.2d 857 (1963).
When a reapportionment plan reduces the number of magisterial districts, two issues arise. The first is whether the sitting magistrates continue to represent the constituents in their old districts. Since the new district lines are effective immediately after passage of the ordinance, the magistrates' districts would change accordingly. For example, if the old plan created six districts numbered 1 through 6, and the new plan created four districts numbered 1 through 4, then the magistrate elected from the old district 1 would serve the residents in the new district 1, and so forth. Anggelis v. Land, above. The two magistrates serving old districts 5 and 6 would not represent any particular constituency at all, but would continue to serve throughout their elected terms.
The second issue concerns vacancies that may arise from the death or resignation of one of the sitting magistrates. If a magistrate from districts 1 through 4 leaves office, a successor will have to meet the residency requirements based on the boundaries of the new district. OAG 83-170. If a magistrate from district 5 or 6 leaves office, the vacancy would not be filled at all, since the officeholder's right to continue in office from the old district is based solely upon the fact that he was elected prior to the effective date of the legislative change and, therefore, cannot be legislated out of office. However, when he vacates the office after the legislative change, his successor would not be entitled to continue his right of office for the unexpired term . . . . OAG 81-424, p. 3.
Ross T. Carter
Assistant Attorney General