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Court of Appeals Judge Nickell running for Kentucky Supreme Court
Judge Shea Nickell, left, is running for retired Judge Bill Cunningham's, right, Ky Supreme Court seat.

Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Shea Nickell is running for the seat vacated by First District Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham. Judicial races in Kentucky are nonpartisan, so the race won't be on the May primary ballot.

Governor Bevin appointed David Buckingham of Murray to fill the seat until January. Buckingham has not filed nor is it anticipated he will file. this writing, Nickell is unopposed.

Judges Cunningham and Nickell tour the River Counties (Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton and Hickman) every year, visiting schools, courthouses and meeting members of the bar. See January 2011: Judges tour River Counties and talk to students The judges are sometimes joined by Judge Donna Dixon, the First District's other Court of Appeals judge. January 23, 2012

On April 12th, Judge Nickell toured one last time on with now retired Judge Cunningham. They shared war stories and memories with members of the local bar at a luncheon at The Meadows in the middle of their tour.

Judge Nickell is known in the District not only for his judicial endeavors but for his encyclopedic knowledge on the life of Alben Barkley. Posters of Barkley donated by Nickell adorn schools and courthouses throughout the district. He has an extensive collection of Barkley memorabilia. For a presentation in the summer of 2018, he brought rows of newspapers, posters, photos and even Barkley's mailbox to Clinton in July 2018. See Life of Barkley has lessons to teach

A native of Paducah, Judge Nickell majored in both political science and communications at DePauw University before graduating in 1984 from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was elected president of the Student Bar Association. He practiced law twenty-two years prior to becoming an appellate judge, serving as a trial and appellate attorney, prosecutor, and public defender, and as a college instructor at Murray State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1995, the Kentucky Bar Association named him the Outstanding Kentucky Young Lawyer.

Those who recall Nickell's first run for the court of appeals will remember that he is a tireless campaigner. He will be visiting groups around the district distributing bumper stickers and other campaign keepsakes. His singing voice will come in handy if any group wants a rousing rendition of My Old Kentucky Home.

Judge Nickell is married to the former Carolyn Watson, a Paducah pathologist, who serves as a trustee of the Kentucky Medical Association and as music director at Paducah's Highland Baptist Church.


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