Justice Samuel T. Wright III was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2015 and serves as the justice from the 7th Supreme Court District. The district is comprised of 22 Eastern Kentucky counties.
Justice Wright previously worked as a trial judge for more than 23 years in Letcher County, where he was born and raised. He was serving in his fourth term as Letcher County Circuit Court judge when he was elected to the Supreme Court. He was first appointed to fill a vacancy on Circuit Court by Gov. Brereton Jones in 1993 and was then elected. Prior to taking the Circuit Court bench, Justice Wright was the District Court judge for Letcher County for a year. Gov. Jones appointed him to the district judgeship and he was then elected to the office.
While serving as a trial judge, Justice Wright established the first parent education clinic in Eastern Kentucky to help reduce the emotional harm children suffer in divorce. In 2004, he started the Letcher County Drug Court program with a grant to provide treatment and support for people with substance abuse problems who committed crimes associated with their addictions. The program provides mental health services and court monitoring. Letcher County Fiscal Court passed a resolution describing the results of the program in Letcher County as “amazingly successful.” Justice Wright obtained a grant in 2015 to expand the program.
Prior to becoming a judge, Justice Wright was practicing law as an attorney. After earning his juris doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law in Lexington in 1981, he returned to Eastern Kentucky to join the law firm of Cook and Wright. He went on to open his own law practice in 1989.
Justice Wright worked his way through high school and college. In high school, he worked evenings and weekends in his family’s small country store. His mother ran the store and he and his sister were raised in an apartment in the back of the business. His father was a probation and parole officer. In college, Justice Wright spent his summers working at a local coal tipple. He received an associate’s degree from Hazard Community College and his bachelor’s degree from UK.
Justice Wright is married to his college sweetheart and the couple has two sons who have remained in the Eastern Kentucky region. One son is a wildlife biologist and the other is studying computer programming.