Judges: Prisoners on Principle

Kentucky counties are governed by fiscal courts, odd bodies consisting of magistrates whose functions go back to the days of English squires. Each magistrate not only holds preliminary hearings in his district; he also represents it on the county fiscal court, which is roughly equivalent to a city council. Since it has a county's sole taxing power, the court must pass on all public spending — a chore that al most inevitably engulfs the magistrates in all manner of hot politics as well as cool principles.

After Kentucky's legislature author ized a 10% hike in school taxes, the Pike County...

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