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Kentucky Supreme Court elects next chief justice as John D. Minton heads toward retirement


The justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court voted Tuesday to elect Justice Laurance B. VanMeter as their next chief justice.

He will begin serving a four-year term Jan. 2nd and will succeed Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who is retiring after 14 years as the head of the court and judicial branch.

Kentucky’s chief justice paid $147,362.

Chief Justice-elect Laurence VanMeter

Chief Justice-elect Laurence VanMeter

VanMeter was born in 1958 in Lexington and was raised in Winchester. He received his undergraduate degree with a major in history in 1980 from Vanderbilt University and his law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif, a scholastic honor society, and the Kentucky Law Journal . More recently, he earned a Master of Laws degree from Duke University School of Law in 2020 and, in July 2020, was elected to the American Law Institute.

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VanMeter was elected to the state’s Supreme Court in November 2016 from the 5th Supreme Court District. Upon taking office Jan. 2, 2017, he became the third Supreme Court justice to have served at all four levels of the Kentucky unified court system, according to a news release from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Justice VanMeter served 13 years as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge from the 5th Appellate District, having been elected in November 2003 and re-elected unopposed in 2006 and 2014. Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, he was appointed and then elected to the Fayette Circuit Court bench, where he served from 1999 until his election to the Court of Appeals. He was a Fayette District Court judge from 1994 to 1999.

“I am extremely humbled by the vote of confidence my colleagues have shown in me to be the next head of the Kentucky Court of Justice,” he said. “Of course, we are saying goodbye to our long-serving chief justice, John D. Minton Jr., who leaves incredibly large shoes to fill. I hope in some small way to live up to the standards he has set. And I need to mention Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes, who is also retiring. Her wisdom and leadership have greatly contributed to the stability of our courts.”

Prior to joining the judiciary, he practiced law with the Lexington firm of Stoll, Keenon & Park from 1983 to 1994, where his practice areas included equine law, business planning and organizations, real estate, taxation, estate planning, trusts and probate.

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Justice VanMeter is married to Fayette Circuit Court Judge Lucy A. VanMeter.

The Supreme Court has had so few chief judges because it was only created in 1976, when the state’s previous high court, the Court of Appeals, became an intermediate appellate court.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky Supreme Court elects Laurance B. VanMeter as chief justice

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