Cunningham brings nearly 50 years of experience to the classroom

MURRAY, Ky. — Retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham, a 1962 graduate of Murray State University, will return to his alma mater in fall 2019 to teach a course on legal studies and criminal law in the Department of Political Science and Sociology.

Cunningham’s course, LST 480 “Topical Seminar in Legal Studies/Criminal Law in Real Time,” will take students on a realistic journey through the criminal process, teaching them about the same concepts and law system he worked in for more than 40 years. The former justice will offer real-world experiential learning opportunities through high-impact seminars and field experiences. 

The class will be taught at Faculty Hall, located on the main campus in Murray, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 12:30-1:45 p.m. during the fall semester, which begins August 20.  Currently-enrolled students can register for the course now through their myGate account; prospective students interested in the course and enrolling at Murray State can apply for admission at murraystate.edu/apply.

In addition to his service on the state Supreme Court, Cunningham served as circuit court judge for the 56th Judicial Circuit in western Kentucky for more than 15 years. Prior to that, he worked as a trial commissioner, hearing officer, commonwealth’s attorney and more. After earning his juris doctorate from the University of Kentucky in 1969, he served in the U.S. Army on assignments in Vietnam, Korea and Germany before starting his legal career.

“Few things have been as exciting as watching my alma mater, Murray State, rise to national prominence as one of the leading Universities in the country,” Cunningham said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to give something back to a school which gave me my start. I’m excited about the opportunity given to me by Murray State to attempt to inspire young students to pursue a career in criminal justice, one of the highest of all professional callings.” 

Cunningham has authored six books on regional history and has made frequent informative contributions to newspapers across Kentucky as well as his own blog.

In 2016, he was recognized as a Murray State University Distinguished Alumni Award recipient for his service as a legal professional and Kentucky Supreme Court justice.

“Murray State is very fortunate to have former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice and Murray State Distinguished Alumnus Bill Cunningham on our campus this fall to teach,” said Dr. Bob Jackson, Murray State president. “His work around the Commonwealth is renowned, not just in the areas of government and law, but also with his lauded career as a noted author of regional history. I firmly believe our students will value the practical experiences shared with them by Justice Cunningham and the legal knowledge they will acquire in this course.”

“Our College of Humanities and Fine Arts is so fortunate to have Justice Cunningham in the classroom with our students,” said David Balthrop, dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “His incredible years of law service, his long-standing career as a premier judge and supreme court justice in our commonwealth and his history with Murray State University makes this a very special opportunity for our students. We hope this is a long-term opportunity for our students.”

Photo: Retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham, a 1962 graduate of Murray State University, will return to his alma mater in fall 2019 to teach a course on legal studies and criminal law in the Department of Political Science and Sociology.

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