Here are my responses to questions recently asked by the Paducah Sun newspaper. I hope they will offer more insight into my experience and character.
1) Tell us about you (including but not limited to personal, educational, and professional information)
My name is Chris McNeill. I am a Christian, husband, father, and current Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
I am a native of western Kentucky. I graduated from Murray State University with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and completed my Juris Doctor at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. I completed the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
I am a past president of the McCracken County Bar Association and the Rotary Club of Paducah. I am a former member of the Impact Poverty study group sponsored by the United Way in Paducah. I am a deacon at First Baptist Church.
I have practiced law for over 20 years. My career includes working as a Staff Attorney for the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the Court where I currently serve as judge. I have worked in private civil practice and government criminal work. I have worked as the Directing Attorney of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Paducah office.
My parents raised me with rock-solid western Kentucky values. A love of family, a respect for life, and a deep faith in God. Those values and faith give me the strength to stand up to social and political pressures on the bench.
My wife and I live in Paducah with our two sons and have been married for 26 years.
2) What makes you the best qualified candidate?
My experience makes me the best-qualified candidate. I have worked as a Staff Attorney for the Kentucky Court of Appeals drafting opinions for the judge. Since that time, however, I have an additional 20 years of experience practicing law. I have tried numerous cases to juries. And, as the Directing Attorney for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Office based in McCracken County, I was involved in or supervised representation in over 70,000 cases for six primary counties and multiple other counties in the Purchase and Pennyrile districts.
I have also been recognized professionally. In 2012, the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy honored me with its Professionalism and Excellence Award. In 2018, the Kentucky Bar Association selected me to participate in its inaugural Leadership Conference for attorneys serving as leaders in their profession and communities.
As the sitting judge who also has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of the law, I am clearly the most qualified candidate.
3) How do you see the role of a Court of Appeals judge?
The overarching role of a judge is to follow the Constitution and the language of the law. I always try to be fair and rule according to the law. Within the legal system, a Court of Appeals judge has the role of reviewing decisions from lower courts for error. My experience spent practicing in the lower courts help me carry out my role as judge more effectively.
4) What long-term issues concern you the most?
The influence of any activist judge is perhaps the most concerning issue. Inexperienced judges or judges who run chiefly on ideology are easily drawn to try to make law from the bench. It is the job of legislators to make the law and a judge’s job to interpret it when called upon.