Open Book


Since 1991, a span of some 31 years, I have served a client—the City of Millersburg-- as their legal counsel----through some six Mayors and an untold number of council members----and innumerable joys and crises of one magnitude or another.


The recent fire and ensuing destruction of historic structures encompassing the better part of a city block, and the central business district of the town of Millersburg wrought an emotional outpouring of Millersburg townspeople and Bourbon Countians.


Some of that emotional outpouring has involved the sharing of recollections by Millersburg citizens of their youth spent in the many businesses that once thrived in the Millersburg downtown.


Others have bemoaned the loss of the heart of one of the county's historic districts. Those sincere cries are not to be diminished or depreciated in any way.


There is, however, another issue.


In the past few years:


  • A major transportation update to U.S. 68 has occurred involving expenditure of state and federal funds to improve the transportation corridor from Lexington to Maysville. Those projects, including the Millersburg Bypass, liked by some and less so by others, include as their goal not only improvement in transportation and safety, but also economic development in the region.

  • A phenomenal investment by Community Ventures has saved the former Millersburg Military Institute campus from a near certain destruction and brought thousands of people from all over central Kentucky to Mustard Seed Hill in Millersburg for the amazing Christmas display and other events throughout the year.

  • The City of Millersburg has cooperated with others to obtain a grant which will make improvements to the downtown city park---which now sits diagonally facing the burned out central business district.

  • Paris-Bourbon County Planning officials have identified the Millersburg area as an area ripe for new economic development opportunities to the benefit of everyone in Bourbon County.


  • The Paris-Bourbon County Industrial Development Board has likewise recognized Millersburg's potential as a location for small industrial concerns and jobs benefiting Bourbon and Nicholas Counties.

  • While the federal government owned no property in the destroyed area, federal government operations, in the way of a United States Post Office, were occurring on site and hampered greatly by these events.


The destruction of the heart of the town's central business district severely undermines all those efforts and expenditures.


The people of the town of Millersburg and of Bourbon County with and through their local town government and fiscal court and other private efforts can likely find the wherewithal to pick up a street full of burnt bricks.


Those efforts, however, will do nothing to protect the existing projects and activities mentioned above from being undermined by this loss to Bourbon County.

We know that there are grants and the like which, if obtained, may provide relief under some circumstances, but those benefits are far from certain and may take years to come to fruition while a community suffers and the already ongoing projects cited above, may languish.

One of my favorite oft quoted phrases, 'some see things as they are and ask why; I dream things that never were and ask why not?' seems relevant.

Visions of what could be--in Millersburg-- are exciting. But to get there, will require not just vision, but 'velocity.'


The importance of this situation to Millersburg, Bourbon County and to long term goals of the entire area, cry out for special consideration—from our leaders in Frankfort.


We urge Governor Andy Beshear through his office, (with the assistance of Congressman Andy Barr since federal funds and activities are also implicated) to assist our local leaders in exploring what special funding projects might be available, not only in mitigation of this disaster, but in the planning and funding of a vision that could serve as a model for small towns across the Commonwealth and country, involving investments, public and private; historic and economic, and most of all, real and beneficial, to a broad range of citizens across this region of the Commonwealth.


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  • jimbrannon0

2021 was a challenging year for everyone including the Brannon Law Office. In April, 2021, a fire occurred at my residence which caused a number of dislocations and handicaps, followed by personal issues, all of which culminated in a September 3 move from a hotel room where I had been relocated for 4 months (due to the fire).....to a hospital room for cancer surgery.

Four rounds of chemotherapy are due to end soon with cautious optimism.

As a result, the Brannon Law Office is back to work on a full-time basis and that is cause enough for celebration, not to mention the end of scheduled chemotherapy.

This is all cause for a celebration and a heartfelt wish for everyone to enjoy a more productive and enjoyable 2022.

We are having a big party on Saturday, December 11 as an early welcome to 2022.

Everyone is invited!









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  • jimbrannon0

A few years ago, I defended a black man, who was charged with murder in connection with the death of a white woman.

I had won murder trials before, but on the morning of any serious trial…..as you first stand up to address the pool of possible jurors in jury selection….you get a little nervous.

As the Judge afforded me the opportunity to begin questioning of the jury pool numbering near a hundred, I slowly arose from the defense table and scanned the packed courtroom, all prospective jurors, a few of whom I knew and many I did not.

I knew I was prepared and I told myself, “I’ve done this literally scores of times successfully in the past. I’ll do okay.”

I laid my little yellow pages of metilicously prepared questions on the podium to begin the selection of jurors--questions I had spent hours preparing about their experiences with the law, knowledge of the case which had been on television and in the papers, and their feelings about legal principles such as reasonable doubt.

I first asked my client to stand so that I could introduce him to this crowd of near 100, twelve of whom would judge his life. And then, I felt a deep sinking feeling and a voice in my head told me that “I’ve got a big problem.”

You see my client was black. And he was dark. And he was big.

Of course, I knew those things before.

But in this moment, I looked first at the prosecutor table where two lawyers and their assistant were seated. They were white.

I then looked at the row of police officers numbering six, all of whom were white.

I look at the bailiffs standing beside the bench, two of them, both white.

I looked at the bench, the clerk and judge, all white except the black robe.

I looked out at this courtroom full of possible jurors and I recognized one gentleman seated on the back row who I attended high school with. I noticed him quickly because he was the only one who was not…. White.

My first thought was…. Robert Redford. You got it. Robert Redford in Legal Eagles. The opening statement when it was obvious that the whole jury was convinced of his client’s guilt, before they even heard the case. And Redford in distress said something to the effect of “why bother with this trial charade, lets just find him guilty and get on with the sentencing?”

Redford is interrupted by a juror who exclaims, “but isn’t the defendant supposed to get a fair trial?’

I was no Robert Redford, and my client was damn sure, no, Daryl Hanna.

But I thought of Redford’s juror that seemed so interested in a “fair trial.”

Having now abandoned my well prepared notes, I picked a young woman prospective juror, who I thought by appearance anyway, might be slightly timid in this environment.

Ms. Jones, I blurted, “How would you feel.” If you were on trial for your life, for killing a black person, and you are white skinned?”

“And your lawyer and his investigator are black.”

“These able prosecutors over here, they are black.”

“These six police officers trying to convict you, are black.”

“ The bailiffs here to keep the peace are all black.”

“The Clerk and the Judge overseeing the case are black.”

Oh, but this is a trial by a JURY!

And except for that one white spot, my friend, Mr. Henderson, in the back of the room, THEY are all black.”

“Ms Jones, how would that make you feel?”

“I would be scared to death,” she muttered.

I paced for a few moments nodding my head in agreement.

“How about you Miss Jackson?” “How would that make you feel, on trial for your life and EVERYONE who had anything to do with it, was ALL BLACK?”

I asked four or five more jurors the same question with the same response before I again paced for a few more moments, nodding my head in agreement.

It was very quiet.

I recognized as a juror… a high school teacher who I knew would be versed in such things as “social studies.”

“Mr. English!“ I asked. “What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it ?”

“Well, Mr. English said, we can make sure there is proof….proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I was able to get a few other jurors who I knew from investigation were attuned to such things as the presumption of innocence.

This may be the only case I’ve seen where the jury presented most of the defense theories in the jury selection process.

In this case, a few days later, the jury acquitted my client of murder.

The import of this case, however, in terms of race and justice and the point of “black lives matter,” at least from my perspective, can be summed up, but asking yourself…. the same question I asked those jurors: “How would you feel?”



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