Debra Hembree Lambert was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November 2018. She serves the 3rd Supreme Court District, which is composed of 25 counties.
Justice Lambert came to the Supreme Court after four years on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Prior to taking the appellate bench, Justice Lambert was a Circuit Judge/ Family Court Division for the 28th Judicial Circuit, composed of Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. She was appointed to that seat in 1999 by then-Governor Paul E. Patton. While a Family Court judge, she created the first Drug Court in the area. She was recognized for her efforts in 2002 when the National Association of Drug Court Professionals inducted her into the Stanley M. Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame. For several years, she volunteered in area middle schools, working 10 weeks each semester with at-risk children and families in an effort to help them avoid truancy charges. Justice Lambert currently volunteers as a certified suicide prevention trainer, training others how to properly intervene to prevent suicide.
Chief Justice John D. Minton appointed Justice Lambert as Chair of the newly created Kentucky Judicial Mental Health Commission in 2022. In that role she will lead a large group of key stakeholders in a statewide effort to improve how judicial processes affect cases where parties have mental health, substance use or intellectual disabilities.
A native of Bell County, Ky, Justice Lambert earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University, where she graduated with distinction. She went on to graduate from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1989. Justice Lambert practiced law in Mount Vernon, Ky, serving as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and City Attorney for the city of Mount Vernon. In 2007, Justice Lambert resumed her private practice of law in Mount Vernon until her election to the Court of Appeals in 2014.
Justice Lambert and her husband, Joseph Sharpe, reside on Lake Cumberland in Burnside in Pulaski County. She is the mother of two sons, Joseph Patrick Lambert and John Ryan Lambert, and two stepdaughters, Jessica Sharpe Guffey and Chelsea Sharpe Woolums. She is also the Nonna of Sam Stringer, Collin Guffey and George Guffey.