Order Recognizes Kentucky Chief Justice for Distinguished Public Service

Award Recipient with presenter

On Saturday, April 13,  2024, during the Candler Court of Honor at Malone’s Landsdowne in Lexington, Kentucky, Senior Councilor Dr. James M. “Jim” Schmuck (Alpha Eta–Westminster ’69) presented the Order’s Distinguished Public Service Award to Hon. Laurance Browning VanMeter (Chi–Vanderbilt ’77), the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Distinguished Public Service Award recognizes members who have demonstrated public service by serving in local, state, or federal government and is granted by a majority vote of the Executive Council.

Laurance VanMeter was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court in November 2016 from the 5th Appellate District. Upon taking office on January 2, 2017, he became just the third Justice to have served at all four levels of Kentucky unified court system. His fellow justices elected him as Chief Justice of the Commonwealth for a four-year term that started in January 2023.

Prior to being elected to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice VanMeter served thirteen years as a Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, having been elected in November 2003, and being re-elected unopposed in 2006 and 2014.

Chief Justice VanMeter currently serves as chairman of the Supreme Court’s Civil Rules Committee and Supreme Court Rules Committee, and is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Kentucky Office Chief Justice VanMeter currently serves as chairman of the Supreme Court’s Civil Rules Committee and Supreme Court Rules Committee, and is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions. Chief Justice VanMeter served the Court of Appeals as acting Chief Judge during 2010, as Chief Judge Pro Tempore from 2007 to 2010, as its representative on the Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary from 2004 to 2012, and as its alternate member on the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission from 2012 to 2016. In addition, Chief Justice VanMeter has served on the Probate and Trust Legislative Committee of the Kentucky Bar Association, the Family Court Rules and the Civil Rules Committees of the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Chief Justice’s Fayette County Family Court Task Force, and is a frequent speaker for continuing legal education.

Chief Justice VanMeter received his undergraduate degree with a major in history in 1980 from Vanderbilt University, and his J.D. in 1983 from the University of Kentucky College of Law. More recently, he earned an LL.M. degree, May 2020, from Duke University School of Law and, in July 2020, was elected to The American Law Institute.

Chief Justice VanMeter practiced law with the Lexington firm of Stoll, Keenon & Park from 1983 to 1994, where his practice areas included equine law, business planning and organizations, real estate, taxation, estate planning, trusts, and probate. He has been admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and is a member of the Kentucky and Fayette County Bar Associations. From 1994 to 1999, he served as a judge of the Fayette District Court, 22nd District, Division 1. Chief Justice VanMeter was appointed and then elected to the Fayette Circuit Court bench in 1999 on which he served until his election to the Court of Appeals.

Chief Justice VanMeter has been actively involved in a number of community organizations, including Little League Baseball, Lexington Youth Soccer, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America, Parents’ Place, the University of Kentucky Libraries National Advisory Board, and has served on the vestry of Christ Church Cathedral, on the Vanderbilt University Alumni Board of Directors, and on the Sayre School Board of Trustees. He is a Fellow of the University of Kentucky, a Life Fellow of the Kentucky Bar Foundation, and a Founding Fellow of the Fayette County Bar Foundation. He is a member of Christ Church Cathedral. Chief Justice VanMeter is married to Fayette Circuit Judge, Lucy A. VanMeter. His late wife, Lucy Bryans VanMeter, and he are the parents of four children.

VanMeter is a member of the Candler Court of Honor and a donor to the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation.