By RONNIE ELLIS / CNHI News Service
FRANKFORT — For the first time the Kentucky Supreme Court will have three women justices after Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday appointed Michelle Keller to fill a vacancy on the court.
Beshear appointed Keller of Fort Mitchell to fill the unexpired term of Justice Wil Schroder, who announced in January he was stepping down after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. The appointment is effective today.
Keller was serving on the Court of Appeals and her appointment creates a vacancy on that court which Beshear will fill by appointment from among three nominees of a judicial nominating commission.
“I have the deepest respect and fondness for Justice Wil Schroder,” Keller said in a statement released by the governor’s press office. “Therefore, this is a bittersweet moment for me.
“I am very grateful to Gov. Beshear and I am humbled by his confidence, as well as the confidence and support of so many people in my district and beyond,” Keller said. “I will work hard to provide justice to my fellow Kentuckians and continue the fine legacy of Justice Schroder.”
Keller was elected to the Court of Appeals in 2006, the same year Schroder was elected to his Supreme Court term which Keller will now fill. She will have to run for re-election in 2014.
Previously she practiced law in northern Kentucky for 17 years, including time as an assistant county prosecutor. She was graduated from the Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Prior to graduating from law school Keller was a registered nurse, including while attending law school. She also is a former chairwoman of the Kentucky Personnel Board.
“Judge Keller brings a wealth of varied experience to the position of Supreme Court justice and has excellent qualifications,” Beshear said in the statement which accompanied his announcement. “I thank Justice Schroder for his long career of judicial service. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with him and his family.”
Keller will join two other female justices on the seven-justice court; Lisabeth Hughes Abramson and Mary Noble.
Beshear chose her from three names submitted by a special nominating commission. The others were Joseph Conley Jr. of Villa Hills and Allison Emerson jones of Prospect.
The 6th Kentucky Supreme Court District covers 21 counties: Bath, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Fleming, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Henry, Kenton, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Pendleton, Robertson, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.