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Law Library

Kentucky Law: Courts & Cases

Overview of Kentucky legislative, judicial, executive, local, and constitutional legal resources.

Kentucky Courts

Kentucky is a common law jurisdiction where past cases are used as precedent by judges in deciding current disputes.

Kentucky has a three tiered state court system. The District and Circuit Courts are the trial courts. Generally, the findings of fact they make cannot be appealed, but any disputed rulings on matters of law can be. Kentucky has two appellate courts: the Court of Appeals, which generally hears appeals first, and Supreme Court, the highest court. Prior to 1976 the Court of Appeals was the highest court in Kentucky.

Kentucky is in the sixth circuit for federal cases, and has two federal district courts. For information on access and decisions of Federal courts, see the Federal Law Guide link below.

Law Reporters

Published decisions from Kentucky courts are reported primarily in the South Western Reporter. A citation to a case in the South Western Reporter will have the following format:

Name of case, Volume Reporter Page (Court, Date)

For example:

Simpson v. Commonwealth, 889 S.W.2d 781 (Ky. 1994)

West's Kentucky Decisions collects all cases from Kentucky published in the South Western Reporter.

Rules of Court

Trial Resources