Laurance B. VanMeter was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court in November 2016 from the 5th Appellate District, comprising Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Mercer, Scott, and Woodford Counties. 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 Kentucky for a four-year term that started in January 2023.
Prior to being elected to the Supreme Court, 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.
Justice VanMeter currently serves as chairman of the Kentucky Evidence Rules Review Commission, as Co-Chair of the Supreme Court’s Civil Rules Committee, and is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Kentucky Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Commission and to the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions. He formerly served on the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Judicial Form Retirement Systems from 2009 to 2018, serving as chairman of that Board for two terms (2012-16, and 2017-18), with an intervening term as chairman of the Judicial Retirement Fund Investment Committee (2016-17). 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, 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.
Justice VanMeter was born in 1958 in Lexington, and was raised in Winchester. He 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, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Kentucky Law Journal. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.