Chief Justice Lambert Receives Honorary Degree from EKU

Jessica Spencer – EKU

The gavel wasn’t slammed. There wasn’t a jury. And the audience wasn’t asked to rise.

But Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert was in the house Tuesday.

Law Day was held at Eastern in the Business and Technology Center and Lambert was on hand to offer some insight into Kentucky’s law system.

“The future of Kentucky is brighter today, I believe, because of Chief Justice Lambert’s legacy of service and compassion for the future,” President Joanne Glasser said as she introduced Lambert, the Supreme Court Justice and Eastern Kentucky native.

Lambert began explaining the four-level court system in Kentucky; the top being the Supreme Court, followed by the Court of Appeals, then the Circuit Courts and, lastly, the District Courts.

He also explained his position as Supreme Court Justice and the duties that come with the position.

Some of those duties include presiding over cases that are appealed. Lambert said as many as 700 to 800 requests for appeals may be received in a year’s time, but only 10 or 15 percent of those appeals are granted.

Lambert went on to explain the role of state and federal courts. He said while it may be a shocking statistic, 97 percent of all cases decided by courts are settled in state courts, meaning that only 3 percent are resolved in federal courts.

“Federal courts’ role is limited to what the Congress of the United States has told them they could do,” Lambert said. And Lambert spoke of the role of the courts in society.

“The role of the court is to decide a controversy between the state and an individual or two individuals in a criminal act,” Lambert said.

But Lambert began his life role not too far from Eastern’s campus.Lambert was raised in Mt. Vernon.

After completing his bachelor’s in economics and business administration at Georgetown College, Lambert received his law degree from the University Of Louisville School of Law in 1974. He then returned to his hometown, where he practiced law for 12 years.

In 1987, Lambert was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court, where he still serves. But chief justice is not the only position Lambert holds. He is also chairman of the board of directors for the Rockcastle Hospital, as well as a board member for the Center of World Development in Somerset.

Lambert has also received several awards for his many achievements. The Kentucky Bar Association elected Lambert as Outstanding Judge of Kentucky in 2000 and, in 2001, he received the Kentucky Public Advocate Award.

Eastern even gave Lambert an honorary doctoral degree.

And Lambert left Eastern with one command: to keep focused on the slogan of the day, “empowering youth and assuring democracy.”

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