FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A veteran Kentucky Court of Appeals judge is seeking the Supreme Court seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Bill Cunningham this month.
Judge Christopher Shea Nickell filed his papers for the high court’s 1st District, which includes most of western Kentucky, on Monday at the Secretary of State’s office.
Nickell says he is well acquainted with the man he hopes to succeed on the bench. “I had the pleasure of practicing in front of Bill, when he was a circuit court judge on several occasions. I have the highest regard for Justice Cunningham, and consider him not only a mentor, but a friend.”
Nickell says he has enjoyed the work he has done at the Court of Appeals the past 12 years, where he serves as Chief Judge Pro Tem, and spent seven years as chairperson of the Personnel Committee, “hiring central office staff attorneys and helping them develop their appellate writing skills.”
He has also served on the Judicial Compensation Commission, chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, setting priorities for the judicial budget.
“I believe the past 12 years as a judge on the Court of Appeals provides me with a very beneficial perspective, and an unparalleled preparation for the heavy responsibilities of being a Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court,” he said. “If the voters seem it appropriate, I would like to take that perspective and that preparation to the High Court, to represent their interests and to serve justice.”
Nickell, an avid student of history, especially in western Kentucky where he has lived all his life, counts among his idols former Vice President and U.S. Sen. Alben Barkley, and has posted plaques honoring Barkley at schools, courthouses and other locations throughout the 1st District.
Cunningham retired effective Feb. 1 and Nickell is the first person to file for the November election to finish the unexpired term, which ends in 2022. The filing deadline is June 4.
Gov. Matt Bevin will be able to appoint a Justice to serve until the November election, once the seven- member Supreme Court Nominating Commission forwards him three names from which to choose.