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The Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment and is the state supreme court of the U.S. state of Kentucky. Prior to that the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals is now Kentucky's intermediate appellate court.

Kentucky Supreme Court
Kentucky Supreme Court Chamber.jpg
The chamber of the Kentucky Supreme Court
Established 1976
Country Kentucky, United States
Authorized by Kentucky Constitution
Website Official Website
Chief Justice
Currently John D. Minton, Jr.
Since June 27, 2008
Lead position ends January 1, 2023

Criminal appeals involving a sentence of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of twenty years or more are heard directly by the Kentucky Supreme Court, bypassing the Kentucky Court of Appeals. All other cases are heard on a discretionary basis on appeal from the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

The Kentucky Supreme Court promulgates the Rules of Court and Rules of Evidence. Through two of its subagencies, the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions (KYOBA) and Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), it is the final arbiter for bar admissions (KYOBA) and discipline (KBA).

In the event that two or more justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court recuse themselves from a case, the Governor of Kentucky appoints Special Justices to sit for that particular case.

The court meets in a courtroom located on the second floor of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. The second floor of the capitol building is also home to offices for the justices and Supreme Court personnel.

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), under the aegis of the Kentucky Supreme Court, serves as the administrative support agency for Kentucky courts and Circuit Court Clerks. The role of the AOC is similar to that of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for the Kentucky General Assembly.


Notable casesEdit

In its short history, the Kentucky Supreme Court has not produced much jurisprudence of note. A study published in 2007 by the Supreme Court of California found that of all state supreme courts in the United States, the decisions of the Kentucky Supreme Court were the least followed by other states' appellate courts.[1]

Notable decisions of the Kentucky Supreme Court include Kentucky v. Wasson, 842 S.W.2d 487 (Ky. 1992), in which the court invalidated the criminalization of same-sex sodomy as a state equal protection violation. This Kentucky decision, based on the Kentucky Constitution, was made at a time when the applicable federal equal protection precedent was Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), which held that federal constitutional protection of the right of privacy was not implicated in laws penalizing homosexual sodomy. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court reversed itself and overturned Bowers, issuing a decision in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) that mirrored Kentucky's Wasson ruling. While some[who?] thought the Kentucky Supreme Court Wasson opinion to have been progressive, others criticized the opinion for having no basis in the 1890 Kentucky Constitution.


The Court has seven justices, each of whom is elected for an eight-year term from one of seven geographic districts in non-partisan elections. The justices' terms are staggered; they do not all run for election in the same years. The justices choose one of their number to serve a four-year term as chief justice who serves as the administrative head of both the Supreme Court and the Kentucky Court of Justice. The first chief justice was Samuel Steinfeld, who had been the chief justice of the Court of Appeals since 1972.

Justice District Date Service Began Term Ends
John D. Minton, Jr. (Chief Justice)
Bill Cunningham
Daniel J. Venters
Lisabeth Tabor Hughes (Deputy Chief Justice)[2]
Laurance B. VanMeter
Michelle M. Keller
Samuel T. Wright III

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jake Dear and Edward W. Jessen, " Followed Rates" and Leading State Cases, 1940-2005, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 683, 694(2007).
  2. ^ Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes named Deputy Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Kentucky

External linksEdit