Law Day designated to celebrate rule of law, American freedoms
FRANKFORT, Ky., May 1, 2009 – For a society that values liberty and the rule of law, having many lawyers is “a good thing,” Justice Daniel J. Venters of the Supreme Court of Kentucky told an audience today during the Kentucky Law Day celebration at the Capitol in Frankfort. Justice Venters was the keynote speaker for the public event, which took place in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
“People feel frustrated, even annoyed, by the burdens sometimes imposed by the legal processes implicit in the rule of law,” Justice Venters said. “But we should not be surprised or offended that citizens, who would send their children around the world to die protecting or securing other people’s rights, would not hesitate to assert their own rights in a court of law.”
Law Day is a nationally designated day for Americans to celebrate the rule of law. The day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms of Americans. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Law Day 51 years ago on May 1, 1958, to strengthen America’s heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. In April 1961, Congress passed a joint resolution designating each May 1 as Law Day, U.S.A.
In Kentucky, new attorneys are sworn in as part of the celebration each Law Day. Supreme Court Clerk Susan Stokley Clary swore in 143 new Kentucky attorneys on this Law Day.
“It is the work of the lawyer, however great or mundane it may seem, that for the past nine centuries has kept the idea of liberty and the rule of law alive in the hearts of men and women,” Justice Venters told the new attorneys during his speech. “That is the legacy of liberty passed to you. Your charge is to keep it and preserve it, and deliver it safely to the next generation.”
Also during the Law Day ceremony, individuals who have contributed to law-related education received awards. Justice Venters was among the award recipients this year, earning the Liberty Bell Award for his Law Day speech and other efforts.
The national theme for this year’s Law Day is A Legacy of Liberty. The theme recognizes the 200th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, who was a lawyer.
Of President Lincoln, Justice Venters said in his speech, “As a young lawyer, not yet 30 years of age, Lincoln spoke of our faith in the rule of law when he said ‘Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, spelling books and in almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.’ ”
Justice Daniel J. Venters
Justice Daniel J. Venters of the Supreme Court of Kentucky represents the 3rd Supreme Court District, which is comprised of 27 counties across Southeastern Kentucky. Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Justice Venters to the court in August 2008 to fill the seat made vacant by the retirement of Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert.
The 3rd Supreme Court District is comprised of Adair, Bell, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Estill, Garrard, Green, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, Marion, McCreary, Metcalfe, Monroe, Nelson, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Taylor, Washington, Wayne, and Whitley counties.
Justice Venters came to the Supreme Court with 24 years of judicial experience, serving as a Circuit Court judge for Pulaski, Lincoln and Rockcastle counties from 1984 to 2003 and as a District Court judge for Pulaski and Rockcastle counties from 1979 to 1984. In 1986, he earned the Henry V. Pennington Trial Judge Award.
Justice Venters retired from the trial court bench in 2003 and returned to private law practice in his hometown of Somerset, focusing on civil litigation.
Prior to his judicial career, Justice Venters was an assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties from 1975 to 1979 under then-Commonwealth’s Attorney Hal Rogers, who is now a U.S. congressman.
Justice Venters was admitted to practice by the Kentucky Bar Association in 1975, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 and the U.S. District Court for the Western District in 2004. He earned his juris doctor in 1975 from the University of Kentucky College of Law. He has a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University.
Justice Venters has served as a member of the Kentucky Board of Bar Examiners and as a member of the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors.
He and his wife, attorney Jane Adams Venters, reside in Somerset. She also is a graduate of the UK College of Law and practices family law in Somerset.