Justice Donald C. Wintersheimer has served on the Supreme Court since his election in 1982, having been re-elected in 1990, and again in 1998. Prior to his service on the Supreme Court he was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. A Northern Kentucky native, Justice Wintersheimer was born in Covington, received an A.B. from Thomas More College; his M.A. from Xavier University and his law degree from the University of Cincinnati. Before election to the bench, while in private practice, Justice Wintersheimer served fourteen years as City Solicitor for the City of Covington. Justice Wintersheimer is a prolific opinion writer on the Supreme Court having an average of over 50 opinions each year, the most for any member of the Court.
He has published three Law Review articles in the area of State Constitutional Law for the Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He has also published articles in the Law Journal of the National Legal Center for the Medically Disabled, Issues in Law and Medicine, as well as articles for the Albany Law Review, Quinnipiac Law Review, Temple Law Review and New York University annual survey of American Law. He has received Kentucky Bar Association Recognition Awards for Continuing Legal Education and annually lectures on current Supreme Court decisions at the Continuing Legal Education District Bar meetings. Justice Wintersheimer is a member of the American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects.
Justice Wintersheimer is a member of the Kentucky and Ohio Bar Associations as well as the American Bar Association, the Cincinnati Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association and the Northern Kentucky Bar Association. A founding member of the Chase American Inn of Court, he is a member of the American Judicature Society and the Institute of Judicial Administration. He is a member of the Adjunct Faculty of the Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University and teaches a seminar course in State Constitutional Law. He served as the Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Chase College of Law, and was named Outstanding Jurist by Phi Alpha Delta Legal Foundation in 1990. In 1998, he was recognized as a distinguished alumni of the College of Law of the University of Cincinnati. A former president of the Thomas More Alumni Association and the Kentucky Municipal Attorneys' Association, Justice Wintersheimer received the community service award, distinguished alumnus award and outstanding teacher award from Thomas More College. His military service included two years in the U.S. Army Infantry.
Justice Wintersheimer has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) since its inception. Additionally, he is chairperson of the Judicial Legal Education Committee, chairperson of the Supreme Court Rules Committee and has been chairperson of the Criminal Rules Committee in past years.
Wintersheimer, as Covington city attorney, successfully opposed several rate hikes sought by telephone, electric and gas utilities. He was lead counsel in a decision that refunded $1.3 million to all telephone customers in Northern Kentucky. He also won the first federal court battle in Kentucky that set aside a State redistricting plan for violating the one-person, one-vote concept.
Although he has written many useful and interesting decisions, among the more significant cases authored by Justice Wintersheimer are: the opinion that provided the constitutional basis for the legitimate establishment of the Family Court in Kentucky; the opinion which provided a common law cause of action of parental consortium in which children can sue for the loss of a parent; the decision which reaffirms the inherent right of judges to investigate possible fraud in settlement practices; the decision which established the constitutional basis for economic development, such as the Toyota plant through the issuance of revenue bonds; the opinion which permitted a state cause of action against a national manufacturer of a defective eye lens; the opinion which clarified the law in regard to complicity in child abuse cases; the opinion which established the tort of outrage in Kentucky; the ruling that upheld zero tolerance laws for drunk drivers under 21 years of age, as well as a number of other DUI cases imposing a strict standard on such violators; the decision which established the guidelines for open records investigations. Justice Wintersheimer was among the majority in the landmark case which established comparative fault in Kentucky, Hilen v. Hays, 673 S.W.2d 713 (1984). In 1998, he appeared on the PBS television special "Inside the Law" with Jack Ford and Barry Scheck.
He and his wife Alice, a teacher, reside in Covington and are the parents of five adult children, three of whom are lawyers.