Justice Michelle M. Keller was appointed to the Kentucky Supreme Court in April 2013 by Governor Steven Beshear and was subsequently elected to a full eight-year term on the Court in November 2014. Prior to her service on the Supreme Court, Justice Keller was elected as Judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in November 2006. Justice Keller has served as the Court of Appeals representative on the Judicial Conduct Commission, Chairperson of the Court of Justice’s Technology Governance Committee, and is currently serving as Chairperson of the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission and Criminal Rules Committee.
Prior to her service on the bench, Justice Keller practiced law for 17 years. She served as an assistant county attorney for her home county of Kenton. Her private practice concentrated in the areas of medical negligence and product liability defense, personal injury and family law, and criminal defense. Justice Keller also practiced administrative law, representing numerous clients before state regulatory and licensure boards. She is Chairwoman Emeritus of the Kentucky Personnel Board and has served as a hearing officer and member of that Board. Justice Keller is licensed to practice law in Kentucky, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the United States Supreme Court. She has twice been commended by the Kentucky House of Representatives for her service to the Commonwealth.
Justice Keller attended Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law while working as a licensed registered nurse in critical care. At Chase, Justice Keller was an IOLTA Scholar, earning her Juris Doctor in 1990. Chase presented Justice Keller with both the Chase Excellence and Chase Exceptional Service Awards in 2007 and 2011 respectively.
Additionally, Justice Keller was named a 2012 Outstanding Woman of Northern Kentucky honoree for her commitment to public service and community involvement. She was honored on Law Day in 2013 with the Richard D. Lawrence Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Northern Kentucky Bar Association (“NKBA”). After delivering the Law Day address on May 1, 2014, she was honored with the Liberty Bell Award for her service to the Court of Justice, and in December 2017 was the first woman presented with the Distinguished Lawyer of the Year Award by the NKBA. Most recently, the Kentucky Bar Association (“KBA”) designated Justice Keller to receive the 2020 Distinguished Judge Award.
Justice Keller has served in various positions for the NKBA, KBA, and the American Bar Association. In 2009, she received the KBA’s Donated Legal Services Award for her commitment to Pro Bono service and support of Kentucky’s legal services organizations. She is a Master in the Salmon P. Chase Inn of Court and served as president of the Inn from 2012-13. Justice Keller is also a Fellow of both the American and Kentucky Bar Foundations.
A lifelong Northern Kentuckian, Justice Keller and her husband, Jim, a physician, are the proud parents of daughters, Brenna, a research fellow with the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), and Olivia, a practicing attorney.