Whatever It Takes
and Whatever It Takes 2.0

While establishing family court, Debra created the area’s first Judge-led truancy diversion program, called “Whatever it Takes.” Judge Lambert worked collaboratively with schools that would identify at-risk children in four different middle schools, and each semester Judge Lambert would volunteer to meet with the children weekly at the beginning of the school day for a ten-week session.

“I was blessed with an ingrained knowledge that education was the ticket, and I used group lessons then met individually with the children to try to address whatever their needs were,” Lambert said. “Our whole team approach was to focus on the strengths of each individual child and build them up.”

This program spanned six years was very successful in each of the schools served. “As a poor mountain kid, I knew many struggles and personally benefited from the added support of teachers and neighbors,” Lambert said. “I knew the power of a caring adult in any child’s life. It was a very valuable program and, if elected to the Supreme Court, I would work with the Department of Education and front-line teachers in crafting a portable curriculum that any Kentucky Judge could use in any Elementary or Middle School.” Debra believes that today’s world requires earlier intervention with children who are at risk and believes this program, like it’s original inspiration, could address many topics such as substance abuse prevention, bullying and cyberbullying, suicide prevention, peer mentoring, and academic achievement.  For discussion purposes, Debra calls this new initiative, “Whatever It Takes, 2.0.”


  • Eastern Kentucky University – Bachelor’s Degree, with Distinction, 1983
  • University of Kentucky – Juris Doctor, Graduating top 25% of her class, 1989

Law Practice

  • Private Law Practice for over 16 years
  • Former Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney
  • Practiced cases at all levels of Kentucky trial courts

Judicial Experience

  • Circuit Judge – 28th District, 1999-2006
  • Judge, Kentucky Court of Appeals
  • Only candidate with appellate court judicial experience


  • National Drug Court Hall of Fame
  • Outstanding Judge, Foster Care Review Board, 2001
  • Cabinet for Families & Children Betty Lewis Award
  • EKU “Outstanding Alumnus,” 2000

Vote Judge Debra Hembree Lambert

to represent District 3 for

Justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky

Counties include:

Adair, Bell, Casey, Clinton, Clay, Cumberland, Estill, Garrard, Green, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, Marion, McCreary, Metcalfe, Monroe, Nelson, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Taylor, Washington, Wayne, and Whitley

Drug Court Pioneer

Judge Lambert saw the adverse effects of substance abuse in her cases. Children with developing drug problems were a glaring need. Recognizing this, she established the first drug court in Pulaski, Lincoln and Rockcastle counties. She established a juvenile drug court and a family drug court. The later court worked with families who had temporarily lost custody of their children due to substance abuse problems, and guided them to work a plan to regain custody of their children. Because of her pioneering efforts, she was induction into the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Drug Court Hall of Fame in 2002. There are only three Kentuckians so honored, Judge Lambert, Justice Mary Noble and Connie Payne. For more information visit this link.

Suicide Prevention Work

Debra decided it was time to realize a long standing goal and become trained to teach suicide prevention. In 2016, Debra worked to become a certified QPR Suicide Prevention trainer. In that capacity, she has trained scores of individuals who, like her, have a heart to reach out to others in crisis. Debra worked with the Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health and the Kentucky Bar Association, and in 2017, volunteered to teach suicide prevention to about 5000 lawyers and judges across the state in nine regional continuing education conferences.

Past Recommendations from Kentucky Right to Life

In each of her elections, Debra has been recommended to the voters by Kentucky Right to Life.