​​​​​​Justice Christopher Shea Nickell won election to the Supreme Court of Kentucky from the 1st Appellate District in November 2019, filling the unexpired term of his predecessor. He was unopposed for re-election to a full 8-year term in November 2022, and serves as chairman of the Appellate Rules Committee and the Continuing Judicial Education Commission. He previously represented the 1st Appellate District as a Judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals, winning election in November 2006 and being re-elected unopposed in November 2014. During his 13-year tenure on the intermediate appellate court, he served as Chief Judge Pro Tempore, chairman of the Personnel Committee, and representative on the Judicial Compensation Commission.

Before becoming an appellate judge, Justice Nickell practiced law 22 years. Licensed in all Kentucky state and federal trial and appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court, he served as a plaintiff and defense civil trial attorney, an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney (21st Judicial Circuit), an Assistant McCracken County Attorney, and a Public Advocate. He also taught insurance and risk management at Murray State University and jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 1995, the Kentucky Bar Association named him the “Outstanding Kentucky Young Attorney."

A native of McCracken County, he graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School in 1977. He earned a bachelor's degree from DePauw University in 1981, with a double major in communications and political science. At DePauw, he served as Student Body President, Editor of a campus newspaper, and received the “Walker Cup Award," presented annually by the faculty to the graduating senior who has contributed most to the campus community. He subsequently served on the University's Board of Trustees. In 1984, he earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he was elected to serve as President of the Student Bar Association.

Justice Nickell is affiliated with numerous professional, historical, and civic organizations, and is a Life Fellow of the Kentucky Bar Foundation. He was inducted into the Kentucky Lions Hall of Fame in 2015, served as an international director on the 39-member Board of Lions Clubs International from 2019-22, and was named an International Ambassador of Good Will, the Association's highest honor, in 2022. A 1972 Eagle Scout and former Board member of the Shawnee Trails Boy Scout Council, he received the Outstanding Eagle Scout Award from the National Eagle Scout Association in 2020. A member of the Sons of the American Revolution, he formerly served on the Board of Paducah's Market House Museum. In addition, he is a Silver Life Member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a Life Sponsor of Ducks Unlimited, a 32nd Degree Mason, a Gideon, and a deacon at Paducah's Highland Baptist Church. He formerly served as music director at Paducah's Concord United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church.

Justice Nickell is married to Dr. Carolyn S. Watson, a Paducah pathologist and church music director. His first wife, Lana Jean King Nickell, an educator, died in 2001. His late parents, Carl Duane Nickell and Anna June Starrett Nickell, were also educators.

The First Supreme Court District is currently comprised of the Commonwealth's twenty-three westernmost counties, including Ballard, Calloway, Caldwell, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Davies, Fulton, Graves, Henderson, Hickman, Hopkins, Livingston, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, McLean, 

3235 Olivet Church Road, Suite F
Paducah, KY 42001
Phone: 270-575-7030

​State Capitol, Room 216
700 Capital Ave.
Frankfort, KY 40601
Phone: 502-564-4163