Kentucky Court of Justice
Justice John D. Minton Jr. is sworn in June 27 as 5th chief justice of Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Justice John D. Minton Jr. was sworn in today as chief justice of Kentucky by Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert. He was joined by his wife and children at the formal investiture service which took place in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the state Capitol in Frankfort. He represents the 2nd Supreme Court District, which consists of 14 counties in Western Kentucky.
The Supreme Court justices elected Justice Minton, 56, on May 12 to succeed Chief Justice Lambert, who retires today after 10 years as chief justice and 22 years as a justice. Chief Justice Minton is the fifth chief justice of Kentucky and the first new leader of the Judicial Branch in a decade.
"Public trust and confidence in the integrity and independence of the court system demands that we separate ourselves as much as possible from the political fray and from partisan political considerations," said Chief Justice Minton in his remarks today. "This lies at the heart of the public’s trust in this institution."
He added, "The world outside this courtroom is in a state of rapid change. Society is becoming more diverse, and its legal challenges increasingly complex. Our courts must adapt to keep pace. If we fail to adapt, we will fail our constitutional mandate to deliver swift and efficient justice the people of this Commonwealth demand. I have every confidence that the system that developed so creatively a unified court system 30 years ago and that has led the country in state-of-the art courtroom technology over the ensuing decades is capable of doing a new thing."
Those participating in the service included Chief Justice Lambert, Gov. Steve Beshear, Senate President David L. Williams, House Speaker Jody Richards and Nelson County Circuit Court Clerk Diane Thompson. Also giving remarks were Supreme Court Justices Lisabeth Hughes Abramson, Bill Cunningham, Mary C. Noble and Wil Schroder. Deputy Chief Justice Will T. Scott was unable to attend but provided written comments read by Justice Cunningham.
As executive head of the statewide judicial system, Chief Justice Minton will oversee the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort and the 4,000 statewide employees of the Kentucky Court of Justice, including elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. He will also propose a biennial budget to the General Assembly and execute the Judicial Branch budget. The Supreme Court of Kentucky is the state’s highest court. The seven justices are elected from seven appellate court districts and serve eight-year terms. The Kentucky Constitution provides that the Supreme Court justices elect one of their fellow justices to serve as chief justice for a term of four years.
Profile of Chief Justice Minton
Chief Justice Minton was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November 2006 to represent the 2nd Supreme Court District. He had been appointed to the high court on July 24, 2006, to fill a vacancy created by Supreme Court Justice William S. Cooper, who retired June 30, 2006. Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Minton served as a judge for the Kentucky Court of Appeals, representing the 2nd Appellate District. He was elected to the Court of Appeals in November 2003 and served there until his appointment to the Supreme Court in July 2006.
He was a circuit judge from 1992 to 2003 for the 8th Judicial Circuit, which consists of Warren County, before being elected to the Court of Appeals. From 1996 to 2003, he also served by special appointment of the late Chief Justice Robert F. Stephens and Chief Justice Lambert as chief regional judge for the Green River Region, a 21-county area.
While on the circuit bench, Chief Justice Minton was recognized by the Kentucky Court of Justice for his leadership in forming the Warren County Drug Court and for his commitment to law-related education programs. In 2003, the Kentucky Bar Association honored him with its Outstanding Judge Award. He is also a graduate of the National Judicial College.
Before his election to the Circuit Court bench, Chief Justice Minton practiced law in Bowling Green for nearly 15 years. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in history and English from Western Kentucky University in 1974 and a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1977. Chief Justice Minton is a member of Broadway United Methodist Church in Bowling Green. He serves on the board of the Student Life Foundation at Western Kentucky University. He is also a member and past president of the Bowling Green Rotary Club and a former member of the board of directors of Shakertown at South Union.
Originally from Cadiz, Ky., Chief Justice Minton grew up in Bowling Green where he continues to reside. He is married to Susan Page Minton, a Bowling Green native. They have a daughter, Page Sullivan Minton, and a son, John D. Minton III.
Chief Justice Minton is the son of Dr. and Mrs. John D. Minton of Bowling Green. Dr. Minton previously served at Western Kentucky University as a history professor and as the fifth president of that institution.
Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Kentucky
John D. Minton Jr., June 27, 2008
Joseph E. Lambert, 1998-2008
Robert F. Stephens, 1982-1998
John Stanley Palmore, 1977-1982
Scott E. Reed, 1976-1977