She was first woman elected to Ky. Supreme Court. After 26 years, she’s leaving the bench.

Janet Stumbo, current Appeals Court judge.
Janet Stumbo, current Appeals Court judge. Photo Provided

Appeals Court Judge Janet Stumbo has submitted her resignation, ending a judicial career in which she was the first woman elected to the state Supreme Court without having first been appointed.

Stumbo submitted her resignation by letter to Gov. Matt Bevin and chief Justice John Minton. It is effective Dec. 31.

Stumbo said she has loved being a judge but was ready for a break after more than 26 years on the bench.

She said she wants to do some volunteer work and would like to get involved in some issues in ways that were not possible under rules judges must follow to maintain impartiality.

“Being a judge ties your hands and sews your lips shut a little too much,” she said Friday.

Stumbo, a native of Floyd County, was elected in 1989 to the state Court of Appeals from the 7th Judicial District, which covers 22 counties in Eastern Kentucky.

She was only the second woman to serve on the panel and the first to be elected without having first been appointed to the job, according to her official biography.

Four years later, she was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court to fill an unexpired term. She was the first woman to win a seat on the high state’s highest court without being appointed first.

She won a full term in 1996. Stumbo wrote new rules to make the discipline system for judges more open and headed a pilot program to create a system of family courts across the state.

After being defeated for re-election to the Supreme Court, Stumbo won election to the Court of Appeals in 2006 and has served since.

Stumbo is a member of the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of Kentucky College of Law and and at Morehead State University and has received a number of honors, including the Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the Kentucky Bar Association for Women.

It is Bevin’s purview to appoint a replacement for Stumbo.

There will be an election next year for the unexpired portion of Stumbo’s term, which runs through 2022.