The Kentucky Supreme Court is the court of last resort and the final interpreter of state law. It hears appeals of decisions from the lower state courts.
Cases which involve the death penalty, life imprisonment or imprisonment for 20 years or more go directly from the Circuit Court level where the cases are tried, to the Supreme Court for review. A case which comes before the Supreme Court for review is not retried. There are no witnesses, juries or testimony. The case is presented to the Supreme Court by attorneys with written briefs and oral arguments addressing the legal issues which the Court must decide. Seven justices review cases as a panel and issue written decisions or "opinions," on the cases. After a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court, a case can be appealed only to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
The Supreme Court establishes rules of practice and procedure for the entire Court of Justice, for the conduct of attorneys and judges, and for procedures to be followed by all state court officials.
Seven justices from seven appellate districts are elected to the Court for terms of eight years. In order to qualify for election to the Supreme Court, one must have been licensed to practice law for eight years and have lived in the appellate district for two years.
A chief justice of the Supreme Court is chosen for a four-year term by his or her colleagues. This person is the administrative head of the state's court system and is responsible for its management and operation.
Court of Justice