Kentucky Court of Justice
Judge Laurance B. VanMeter serving as acting chief judge of Kentucky Court of Appeals

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 13, 2010  
Contact Information:  Jamie Ball
Public Information Specialist
502-573-2350, x 50033

Judge Laurance B. VanMeterFRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Laurance B. VanMeter is serving as the court’s acting chief judge following the resignation of Judge Sara Walter Combs from that position. Her resignation as chief judge was effective today. 

“I have worked with Judge Combs for many years and have admired her leadership as chief judge,” Judge VanMeter said. “I am humbled that I have the confidence of my fellow judges to be their acting chief.”

Judge VanMeter has served as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge since November 2003. He represents Division 1 of the 5th Appellate District, which is comprised of Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Scott and Woodford counties. He serves as the Court of Appeals representative on the Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary.

Judge Combs was entering the third year of her second term as chief judge when she stepped down from that position today. She will continue as a Court of Appeals judge. She is the first woman and the first judge from Eastern Kentucky’s 7th Appellate District to be elected chief judge of the Court of Appeals. 

The Court of Appeals judges will elect a new chief judge in June. The chief judge provides administrative oversight to the Court of Appeals and serves a four-year term in that position. 

The Kentucky Court of Appeals, along with the Supreme Court of Kentucky, was formed after the 1975 enactment of the Judicial Article that created Kentucky’s unified court system. Fourteen judges, two elected from each of the seven appellate districts, serve on the Court of Appeals for terms of eight years. With a few exceptions, most cases appealed from Circuit Court go to the Court of Appeals. The case is not retried at the appeals level. Instead, the original trial record is reviewed, with attorneys presenting the legal issues to the court for a decision. 

Court of Appeals judges are divided into panels of three to review and decide cases, with the majority deciding the outcome. The panels do not sit permanently in one location, but travel throughout the state to hear appeals. When the Court of Appeals publishes its rulings on cases, those rulings become the governing case law for all such similar cases in the trial courts of Kentucky.