Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health meets for first time to discuss charge, next steps


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FRANKFORT, Ky., Sept. 22, 2022 –The Supreme Court announced the creation of the Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health in August and today held its first meeting with the commission’s newly appointed members. The discussions focused on how the group will carry out its charge to help people involved with the justice system who are also dealing with mental health issues, substance use or intellectual disabilities.

Supreme Court Justice Debra Hembree Lambert, who chairs the commission, greeted the members who attended today’s meeting in person at the Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort or via Zoom.

“We’re pleased you’re here to get Kentucky on the road to better mental health,” Justice Lambert said. “The stakes are extremely high. We’re dealing with very important issues, and we’re aware that decisions made by our judges can have an impact for generations.” She told the members that each of them were chosen for good reason, as they could be counted on to make thoughtful, intelligent decisions that come from a good place.

The KJCMH is charged with exploring, recommending and, when applicable, implementing transformational changes to improve systemwide responses to justice-involved individuals dealing with mental health issues, substance use or intellectual disabilities. The commission will take into consideration the vision, values and goals of the multiyear assessment by the Kentucky Court of Justice to enhance the practice, quality and timeliness of the judicial response to cases involving these needs. 

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. established the commission based on the undeniable prevalence of these issues in our society. He commended the members, who have a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, for coming together to take on this challenge. “I look around the room at the variety of perspectives,” he said, “and what a variety of perspectives it is.”

The commission will meet quarterly and operate under a recovery-oriented systems of care model that promotes best-practice responses to justice-involved individuals. Today the members began discussions to identify how to structure and design committees to accommodate the goals of the commission and the interests of the members.

The commission will hold its next regular meeting in December and host a Mental Health Summit in Louisville in the spring of 2023.

Commission Membership
The commission membership is composed of 72 representatives from the judicial and legal communities; the juvenile, criminal and child protection systems; the legislature; the business community; organizations with a substantial interest in mental health matters; and other state and local leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to mental health issues affecting Kentuckians.

You can find a list of commission members here.

Supreme Court of Kentucky

The Supreme Court is the state court of last resort and the final interpreter of Kentucky law. Seven justices sit on the Supreme Court and all seven justices rule on appeals that come before the court. The justices are elected from seven appellate districts and serve eight-year terms. A chief justice, chosen for a four-year term by fellow justices, is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Supreme Court may order a ruling or opinion to be published, which means that the ruling becomes the case law governing all similar cases in the future in Kentucky.


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