Judge Christopher Shea Nickell was elected to serve on the Kentucky Court of Appeals on November 7, 2006, and represents Division 1 of the 1st Appellate District.
Prior to his election, Judge Nickell practiced law 22 years, serving as a Kentucky trial attorney, prosecutor, and public defender, and as a college instructor at Murray State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1995, the Kentucky Bar Association named Judge Nickell the Outstanding Kentucky Young Lawyer.
A native of McCracken County and a 1977 graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School, Judge Nickell earned a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in 1981, majoring in both political science and communications. At DePauw, he served as student body president and was awarded The Walker Cup, presented annually by the faculty to the graduating senior who has contributed most to the campus community. He subsequently served on DePauw’s Board of Trustees. In 1984, Judge Nickell earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association.
Judge Nickell has been involved in numerous service organizations. He is a past council chairperson for Multiple District 43 (Lions of Kentucky) of the International Association of Lions Clubs, a past district governor for District 43K (western Kentucky), a past president of the Paducah Lions Club, and a former trustee on the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation. In 2011, he served on the Rules Committee of the 94th International Convention in Seattle, Washington; and in 2013, he served on the Nominating Committee of the 96th International Convention in Hamburg, Germany. He is a recipient of the organization’s Finis Davis and Melvin Jones awards, and was presented an International President’s Certificate of Appreciation.
In addition, Judge Nickell is an Eagle Scout and a former board member of the Shawnee Trails Boy Scout Council. He has served on the board of Paducah’s Market House Museum, is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and lectures on regional history. Active in various wildlife preservation organizations, he was recognized by Ducks Unlimited as a Life Sponsor. Judge Nickell is a deacon at the Heartland Worship Center of Paducah, previously served as music director at the Concord United Methodist Church of Paducah, and is a guest soloist and song leader at numerous civic, religious, and sporting events.
On October 6, 2012, Judge Nickell married Dr. Carolyn Sue Watson, a Paducah pathologist and director of music at the local Highland Baptist Church. His first wife, the late Lana Jean “Jeanne” (King) Nickell, an educator and counselor, died in 2001. His parents are Carl Duane “Red” Nickell and Anna June (Starrett) Nickell, who are retired educators.