Kentucky Court of Justice
Justice Michelle M. Keller formally sworn in as a Supreme Court justice
Justice Keller’s father, Richard Meier, holds the Bible for her as she is sworn in as a Supreme Court justice by Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr.
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Justice Michelle M. Keller was formally sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky by Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. on May 14 at the state Capitol in Frankfort. She was joined at the investiture service by her husband, Dr. James Keller, her daughters, Brenna and Olivia, and her father, Richard Meier. The event took place in the Supreme Court Courtroom.
Justice Keller’s fellow justices and Gov. Steve Beshear were among those who provided remarks during the service.
"Many ancients held various beliefs about the supernatural virtues of the number seven," Chief Justice Minton said. "Irrespective of its exalted place in numerology, seven is the number of justices on this court as set by the framers of our last Constitution. Our experience over the past few months has taught us that we do not function as smoothly at six as we do at seven. At six, we’re incomplete. So first of all, I welcome our new justice whose presence makes us complete. At seven, we’re whole again.
"Justice Keller make us complete by bringing to this court experience in the law, having served a little over six years on the Court of Appeals preceded by more almost 17 years in private law practice, which included a wide variety of practical professional experiences as prosecutor and defense attorney in criminal matters as well as civil experience that included family law. Justice Keller also brings valuable institutional experience to this court as a former hearing officer, member and chair of the state’s personnel board; a member of the KBA House of Delegates; chair of the Self-representated Litigants Committee appointed by Chief Justice Lambert; member of the Judicial Conduct Commission; and, most recently, chair of the Technology Governance Committee."
Gov. Beshear appointed Justice Keller in April to serve as the justice from the 6th Supreme Court District. She was a Court of Appeals judge for the six years prior to being selected for the Supreme Court. With her appointment, the seven-member Supreme Court now has three female justices for the first time ever.
Justice Keller was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Justice Wil Schroder, who retired in January 2013 due to health issues.
The 6th Supreme Court District is composed of Bath, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties.
Justice Michelle M. Keller was appointed to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in April 2013 by Gov. Steve Beshear after having served as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge for six years. She was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Justice Wil Schroder, who retired in January 2013. Justice Keller also serves as chair of the court system’s Technology Governance Committee.
Justice Keller was elected to the Court of Appeals in November 2006 to serve as judge for Division 1 of the 6th Appellate District. From 2007 through February 2012, she served as the Court of Appeals representative on the Judicial Conduct Commission, a post to which her fellow Court of Appeals judges elected her.
Prior to her election as Court of Appeals judge, Justice Keller practiced law for 17 years. She has served both as an assistant county prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Justice Keller’s practice concentrated in the areas of family law, personal injury, and medical negligence defense. She is also experienced in administrative law, representing numerous clients before state regulatory and licensure boards. She is chairwoman emeritus of the Kentucky Personnel Board and has served as a hearing officer and member for the board. Justice Keller is licensed to practice law in Kentucky, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the U.S. Supreme Court. She has served as a special justice to the Kentucky Supreme Court and has been commended twice by the Kentucky House of Representatives for her service to the commonwealth.
Justice Keller attended Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law while working as a licensed registered nurse in critical care. She earned her juris doctor from Chase in 1990. As a student at Chase, she was an IOLTA Scholar. She received the Chase Excellence Award in 2007 and was the recipient of the Chase Exceptional Service Award in 2011.
In 2012, Justice Keller was named a 2012 Outstanding Woman of Northern Kentucky.
She has served in various positions for the Northern Kentucky and Kentucky bar associations. In 2009, she received the KBA’s Donated Legal Services Award. She is a master in the Salmon P. Chase Inn of Court and was elected president of the Inn for 2012-13.
Justice Keller has served her community through various volunteer and board positions, including those with the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home, the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center, Villa Madonna Academy, Centre College, NKU Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the St. Thomas More Society.
She is a member of the Ethics and Professional Responsibility Judges Advisory Committee for the American Bar Association, a position to which ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III appointed her.
A lifelong Kentuckian, Justice Keller and her husband, Jim, a physician, are the proud parents of two daughters.
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.