Jessica M. Karmasek Apr. 4, 2013, 5:02pm

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Legal Newsline) -- Not wasting time, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday named Court of Appeals Judge Michelle Keller to the state Supreme Court.

With Keller's appointment, effective Wednesday, the seven-member court now has three female justices for the first time ever.

Keller replaces Justice Wil Schroder, who retired Jan. 17. Schroder, who was elected to the court in November 2006 to serve the Sixth Supreme Court District, said he was stepping down due to a brain tumor.

Keller will serve the remainder of Schroder's term, which runs through Jan. 1, 2015.

"Judge Keller brings a wealth of varied experience to the position of Supreme Court justice and has excellent qualifications," Beshear said in a statement. "I thank Justice Schroder for his long career of judicial service. Our prayers and thoughts continue to be with him and his family."

Keller called her appointment a "bittersweet moment," saying she has the "deepest respect and fondness" for Schroder.

"I am very grateful to Gov. Beshear and I am humbled by his confidence, as well as the confidence and support of so many people in my district and beyond," she said in a statement.

"I will work hard to provide justice to my fellow Kentuckians and continue the fine legacy of Justice Schroder."

Keller was elected to the Court of Appeals from the Sixth Appellate District in November 2006.

Prior to her election, she practiced law for 17 years, as both an assistant county prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. She also has administrative law experience and previously served as chairwoman of the Kentucky Personnel Board.

She is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University's Salmon P. Chase College of Law, and worked as a nurse while attending law school.

Keller's appointment now creates a vacancy on the Court of Appeals.

The state's Judicial Nominating Commission will meet and submit three names to Beshear, who will make the appointment.

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