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Friday, February 14, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller Administers Oath of Office to Governor, Lt. Governor

Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller administers Oath of Office to newly elected Governor and Lt. Governor, The Fort Mitchell resident was the first woman to hold seat on Kentucky Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller administers Oath of Office to newly elected Governor and Lt. Governor, The Fort Mitchell resident was the first woman to hold seat on Kentucky Supreme Court

While numerous northern Kentuckians attended the inauguration of Governor Andy Beshear in Frankfort, one Ft. Mitchell resident played a key role in the day’s events.

As the clock struck midnight on Inauguration Day, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Michelle Keller, a longtime Fort Mitchell resident, administered the Oath of Office to both Governor Beshear and Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman.

“It was an incredibly special and meaningful moment in front of their respective family, friends, and staff,” says Justice Keller. “The ceremony was held in the Governor’s mansion, which was beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday, and the whole evening had a magical quality about it. The quiet and peaceful transfer of power in democracy is a magnificent thing to behold.”

Justice Keller had known the newly-elected Beshear through his father Steve, who had served two terms as Kentucky’s governor, and as well as through his work in arguing several extremely important and well-known cases before the court in his role as attorney general.

“However, with Jacqueline Coleman, our Lt. Governor, I felt like I was administering the Oath to a good friend,” says Keller. “I had known the Lt. Governor for several years before she became Governor Beshear’s running mate, as Jacqueline was heavily involved in mentoring young women and developing female leaders, a passion we share.”

Justice Keller resides in Fort Mitchell with her husband, Dr. James Keller, and its where they raised their two daughters, Brenna and Olivia. She’s been a “Kenton County girl” all her life, having been born and raised in Erlanger.

 “When Jim and I were married, our first home during law school, and his residency, was in Park Hills,” says Justice Keller. “After finishing both those endeavors, and with our second daughter on the way, we built a home in Crescent Springs. We had both always admired the homes in Fort Mitchell, especially in the older part of the city, and when a friend of ours told us about a home for sale on Summit Lane we jumped at the opportunity to look at it. That was 24 years ago, and we have been working on our home on Summit Lane ever since!”

The Kellers enjoy living in an older home, which Justice Keller acknowledges requires “patience, money, love and skill, and sometimes, it’s difficult to muster all those at once!” She and Dr. Keller have enjoyed raising their daughters in the neighborhood where she says they enjoyed good friendships and the benefits of small-town life just minutes from downtown Cincinnati.

Kellers rise to the Kentucky Supreme Court is something she says she credits to her family and friends.

“I had the honor of following another Fort Mitchell resident, Wil Schroeder, to the Kentucky Supreme Court,” says Justice Keller. “I sit in the seat he sat in on the bench, and before him, that seat was occupied by retired Justice Don Wintersheimer. I am honored to follow both these great judges, and also to be the first woman, as well as the first Chase College of Law alumnus to hold a seat on the Kentucky Supreme Court.”

The legal work of the court – researching, analyzing, and writing the law – is what Justice Keller finds incredibly rewarding.

“We have a chance to help mold and shape the law when it is appropriate to do so, and the cases that come before us are the most significant in the Commonwealth,” says Justice Keller.

In addition to rendering Opinions, Justice Keller points out that the justices of the Court perform many other duties, and it was in that capacity that she had the opportunity to administer the Oath of Office at midnight on Inauguration Day to both Governor Beshear and Lt. Governor Coleman.

“As a justice on the Court, I have the opportunity to administer the Oath many times to new attorneys as they are admitted to the Bar for the first time, and to elected officials, and board members at all levels,” says Justice Keller. “I am always quick to remember that no matter what the office or the occasion, it is an extremely important and special moment for that person, and I try my best to make it special for them.”

Justice Keller wears many hats on the Supreme Court, including Chair of Kentucky’s statewide Access to Justice Commission as well as Chair of the Criminal Rules Committee.

“I spend a lot of time on the road covering the 6th Appellate District, and dividing my time between here and the Capitol in Frankfort, where our Court sits,” says Justice Keller. “I am always a great deal and I could not do it without the love and support of my family and tremendous staff. Kathy Riesenberg is my judicial assistant, and I’ve known her almost my whole life. I am blessed with a talented law clerk, Jenn Brinkman, and, together, they keep me headed in the right direction.”

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