On Monday, February 4 Debra Hembree Lambert was formally sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky at a ceremony at the state Capitol in Frankfort. Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. administered the oath of office to the court’s newest justice. She was elected in November to serve the 27 counties of the 3rd Supreme Court District.
Lambert grew up in Bell County and received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1983 and her J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1989. Justice Lambert is the first woman from the 3rd District to serve on the Supreme Court and on the Court of Appeals. She is also the first justice to have served as a Family Court judge for the 28th Circuit Court.
“I am pleased that a person of Justice Lambert’s capability is joining this court,” Chief Justice Minton said at the investiture. “All of Kentucky – all of us – will benefit from her practical experience in Kentucky’s courtrooms and her pioneering spirit as she joins this court in a pivotal time, as we have the challenge of leading the Judicial Branch through the changing realities of American law. I am looking forward to the contributions you will make as a member of this court.”
During the ceremony, her fellow justices offered encouragement and advice. Several complimented her compassion and her experience in Family Court. “Justice Lambert, you have earned your place on this court,” said Justice Daniel J. Venters (ret.), who Justice Lambert succeeded on the court following his retirement. “You have won the confidence, trust and affection of the people in our region.”
Friends and family surrounded the newly appointed justice during her ceremony. Incuding her husband Joseph Sharpe, sons Joseph and John Lambert, and stepdaughter Chelsea Sharpe Woolums and her husband, Evan Woolums.
Other speakers at the ceremony were Court of Appeals Judge Sara Walter Combs and attorney Stephen C. Cawood of Pineville. The Rev. David Gambrel, who is the Lincoln County property valuation administrator, provided the invocation. Aden Amburgey, a Rockcastle County High School student, sang “My Old Kentucky Home.”
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