Justice Nickell formally sworn in as Supreme Court justice Dec. 11 in at Capitol

Photo caption: Justice Christopher Shea Nickell takes the oath of office from Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. at his investiture ceremony Dec. 11 in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the Capitol. Justice Nickell’s wife, Dr. Carolyn Watson, holds the Bible for him as her parents stand with the couple.

FRANKFORT, Ky., Dec. 11, 2019 – Justice Christopher Shea Nickell of Western Kentucky was formally sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky at an investiture ceremony today in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the state Capitol in Frankfort. Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. administered the oath of office.

Chief Justice Minton said Justice Nickell would bring practical experience and a great heart to the Supreme Court.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that you will serve admirably and well,” he said.

Justice Nickell said he pledged to do his “honor and to do my best” in his new role and that he could not “express in words the great honor and excitement I have in joining this body.”

“As we seek the common good of the common people, let us go forward united in this commonwealth,” he said of the court.

Justice Nickell was elected in the November general election to serve the 1st Supreme Court District, which is composed of the commonwealth’s 24 westernmost counties. He has served the counties in the 1st District for the past 13 years as a Kentucky Court of Appeals judge for the 1st Appellate District, 1st Division.

He was officially sworn in Nov. 24 in Paducah by retired Justice Bill Cunningham. Justice Nickell was elected to fill the vacancy resulting from Justice Cunningham’s retirement in February. Justice David C. Buckingham was appointed to fill the vacancy until the election. 

Justice Cunningham advised Justice Nickell to tell visitors to the Supreme Court Courtroom from his district that the seat he holds on the court is where “we the people of West Kentucky” sit.

Supreme Court of Kentucky
The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.