Debra Hembree Lambert was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November 2018. She serves the 3rd Supreme Court District, which is composed of 27 counties.
Justice Lambert came to the Supreme Court after four years on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Her election to the 3rd Appellate District, Division 1, in November 2014 made her the first woman from the 3rd District to serve on the Court of Appeals. Likewise, Justice Lambert is the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court from the 3rd District.
Prior to taking the appellate bench, Justice Lambert was a Circuit Judge/ Family Court Division for the 28th Judicial Circuit, composed of Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. She was appointed to that seat in 1999 by then-Governor Paul E. Patton. While a Family Court judge, she created the first Drug Court in the area. She was recognized for her efforts in 2002 when the National Association of Drug Court Professionals inducted her into the Stanley M. Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame. She also volunteered in area middle schools, working 10 weeks each semester with at-risk children and families in an effort to help them avoid truancy charges. Justice Lambert currently volunteers as a certified suicide prevention trainer, training others to properly intervene to prevent suicide.
Justice Lambert grew up in Bell County, Ky. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University, where she graduated with distinction. She went on to graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1989. After completing a juris doctor, Justice Lambert practiced law in Mount Vernon, Ky. During that time, she also served as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and City Attorney for the city of Mount Vernon. In 2007, Justice Lambert resumed her private practice of law in Mount Vernon until her election to the Court of Appeals in 2014.
Justice Lambert and her husband, Joseph Sharpe, reside on Lake Cumberland in Burnside in Pulaski County. She is the mother of two sons, Joseph Patrick Lambert and John Ryan Lambert, and two stepdaughters, Jessica Sharpe and Chelsea Sharpe Woolums. She is also the Nonna of Sam Stringer.