I keep dreaming of the day when judicial vacancies are filled through elections and appointment with no concern or consideration of race or gender or any other factor other than competence, judicial views and temperment, and other stuff relative to passing judgment and administering justice as part of our third and co-equal branch of government.
But today, we are not there, and today we have three women on the bench. All competent and hard-working, selected for ability and capability. And regardless of gender that is a good thing for our Commonwealth’s highest court.
However, the personal side of this story and the pictures are a reminder that there are people, persons, families under those robes.
From the AOC Press Release:
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.
KY Supreme Court Makes History, Not A Decision
by Aaron Adelson
For the first time ever, three women sit on Kentucky’s Supreme Court. Justice Michelle Keller swore in Tuesday completing the court.
With her father, Justice Keller took her oath and her new seat on the bench.
“That was the most amazing moment in my life other than probably giving birth to my girls,” said Keller.
She said she felt humbled, joyful, and overwhelmed.
“It’s incredibly surreal. I have worked, I just could never have imagined this in my future,” said Keller.
She says she never dreamed of making history either.
Keller joins Mary Noble and Lisabeth Abramson to become the first three women on the court at the same time.
“To join the other 2 women on the court is something professionally that I could only have dreamed of,” said Keller.
A huge crowd packed the court to watch her swear in.
“My seventh grade science teacher was here for goodness sakes. I mean, that says it all,” said Keller.
Some people waited in line for nearly an hour to shake her hand, and congratulate her.