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A brief history about Bill Cunningham


Justice Cunningham’s career in the legal field and Kentucky politics has led to many paths and many destinations. After earning his Bachelor’s degree from Murray State University in 1962 and his Juris Doctorate in 1969 from the University of Kentucky College of Law, Cunningham enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving his country in Vietnam, Korea and Germany.


Upon his return, the Lyon County native served the court system in several capacities before entering his judicial career. He was the Eddyville City Attorney from 1974 to 1991 and Public Defender for the Kentucky State Penitentiary from 1974 to 1976. Cunningham was Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 56th judicial district from 1976 to 1988 and during his tenure was voted the Outstanding Commonwealth Attorney of Kentucky by his peers. Cunningham also served as Hearing Officer for the Kentucky Board of Claims from 1981 to 1985 and as Trial Commissioner for Lyon Country District Court from 1989 to 1992.


In 1991 Cunningham was elected Circuit Court Judge and served the 56th Judicial Circuit in Western Kentucky. Holding his place on the bench for over 15 years, Cunningham presided over the counties of Caldwell, Livingston, Lyon and Trigg, where he served until being elected to the state’s highest court in 2007. After twelve years on the Kentucky Supreme Court,  Justice Cunningham retired in February, 2019.


Over the years, Cunningham has authored six books on regional history. As a contributor to multiple newspapers in the bluegrass, his articles and online blog have helped to inform the public about their legal system, as well as their state’s esteemed history. 

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