Castleman statue decision stopped by legal clock

A technicality in court rules short circuited a legal effort to have a judge order the statue put back.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 4:04 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The John Castleman statue will continue to sit in a city storage yard, even after opponents of its removal won their legal challenge at the Kentucky Supreme Court.

A technicality in court rules short-circuited a legal effort Monday to have a Louisville judge order the statue put back.

The State Supreme Court ruled on April 27 the Metro Landmarks Commission wrongly decided to remove the Castleman statue. But an effort to get the statue put back up 11 days later was stopped for being filed too soon.

Court rules require 21 days to pass before a Kentucky Supreme Court decision becomes final.

Supporters of the statue want it put back onto its pedestal at Cherokee Triangle. It was taken down after it had been vandalized and John Castleman’s history came into dispute. But the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed with the lawyer challenging its removal.

City employees on the Landmarks Commission should not have voted to remove it, because they could not be impartial, since it was the city asking them to take it down.

The metro lawyer at Monday’s hearing did not reveal any of the city’s next moves at the hearing. She focused very simply on the time that needs to pass for a Kentucky Supreme Court decision like this one.

“This motion needs to be dismissed because this court doesn’t have any jurisdiction,” said Assistant County Attorney Anne Scholtz.

“Once the order from the Supreme Court becomes final, we’ll take it up at that time, and we’ll decide at that time if we should have it set for a hearing,” said Jefferson Circuit Judge Jennifer Bryant Wilcox.

Mayor Craig Greenberg told WAVE following the Supreme Court decision he does not want the statue put back up and said the city was reviewing all of its options going forward.

More of those options will become known once the local judge can actually hear the case. That’s expected later this month.