From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Payne, Gary D.

(born: 1948) 

Judge Gary D. Payne was the first African American judge in Lexington/Fayette County, KY. He was appointed Fayette District Judge by Governor Wallace Wilkinson in 1988, and the following year he won the election for the position against Byron Ockerman. Judge Payne was appointed a circuit judge in 1994 by Governor Brererton Jones, and later that year won the election for the position.  Judge Gary D. Payne was the first African American circuit judge in Fayette County. He was the only African American judge in Lexington/Fayette County until 1999 when Judge Pamela R. Goodwine was appointed to the bench by Governor Paul Patton.

Prior to his appointments, Payne had been a practicing attorney. He served as an assistant county attorney with Norrie Wake in Lexington. He was a partner in the law firm Crenshaw and Payne. He had been a staff attorney for the Kentucky Corrections Cabinet in Frankfort, KY. He was an attorney for the Kentucky National Guard and had been an estate attorney with the Internal Revenue Service. 

In 2002, Gary Payne was the Fayette Circuit Court chief judge when he was named by Chief Justice Joseph Lambert as one of three judges who would deal exclusively with divorce, child custody, adoption, domestic violence, and other issues. By 2007, Judge Payne was a senior status judge in Fayette County.

Judge Gary D. Payne was born in Paducah, KY, and attended Lincoln Institute, Pepperdine University, and earned his law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1978. He is the son of Sara Cooper Payne and William J. Payne. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served with the Kentucky National Guard.

Judge Payne fully retired from the bench in December, 2011.

For more see Black Firsts, by J. C. Smith; Who's Who Among African Americans, 7th-13th editions; and Louise Taylor, "Fayette Family Court on fast track - three judges to deal exclusively with domestic-issues cases," Herald Leader, 12/4/2002, p. B3.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Lincoln Institute (Lincoln Ridge, KY)
NKAA Source: Black firsts : 2,000 years of extraordinary achievement
NKAA Source: Who's who among African Americans

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Payne, Gary D.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 27, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-11-03 13:22:20