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Hon. Karen Caldwell

JPML Chair; USDC Eastern District of Kentucky

Karen Kaye Caldwell (born February 25, 1956) is a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Education and Career

Caldwell earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 from Transylvania University, and her Juris Doctor from University of Kentucky College of Law in 1980. She worked as a field claims representative for State Farm Insurance from 1980 until 1987, and also worked as an adjunct professor at Eastern Kentucky University during the years of 1984, 1985, and 1987. She then served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, from 1987 to 1990. She was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky in 1991, by President George H. W. Bush, and served in that capacity until 1993, when she entered private practice. One of the firms Caldwell worked for was Dinsmore & Shohl, where she was made partner at their Louisville office. Caldwell also temporarily returned to teaching, serving as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Transylvania University, during the 2000 school year.

In 2007, she was honored by the University of Kentucky College of Law and the Kentucky Bar Association by being inducted into the College’s Hall of Fame.

Federal Judicial Service

On the recommendation of Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, Caldwell was nominated by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2001, to a seat vacated by Henry Rupert Wilhoit Jr. She received her commission on October 24, 2001. She served as Chief Judge from October 15, 2012 until August 2019.