A Comment on Qualifications
Recently I was asked how I thought that my thirty years as a judge qualified me to be a Commonwealth’s Attorney. The question was posed by someone who was not a supporter of my candidacy, and it was framed so as to ignore the first ten years of my legal career in which I did prosecutorial work. Nevertheless, my qualifications are a valid issue and something that should be put before the voters.
My first job upon graduating law school was in Frankfort as an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Not only did the position involve the prosecution of cases where the regular prosecutor was disqualified or recused himself/herself from acting in the case, but it also involved assisting in the prosecution of complex and important cases which were beyond the ability or resources of the local Commonwealth's Attorney office .When a conviction is obtained on the local level and then appealed, the Office of the Attorney General takes up the cases and from that point on is responsible for all further representation as the case proceeds through the State and Federal appeals system.
During my nine years of private practice I tried a large number of jury trials as a private attorney, a public defender, and as an Assistant Casey County Attorney. In all of those cases I was responsible for investigating, organizing, preparing, and presenting the case before a jury, which is exactly what a Commonwealth's Attorney is required to do. As the Trial Commissioner for the District Court I was responsible for reviewing and signing warrants and the examination of documents to insure that they were in proper legal form. There is no question that I am an experienced trial attorney who knows how to develop, organize, and argue a criminal case from either side.
As to the basic question of whether three decades as a trial judge is beneficial experience for a Commonwealth's Attorney, it is invaluable. Consider the role of the trial judge. He or she acts as a referee in a trial. The judge must be aware of all the rules and requirements which must be met and followed by both sides during a trial so that reversible error can be avoided. A capable and experienced trial judge is as good a courtroom attorney as you will find. The judge is required to be well versed in the practice of law before he or she can serve. This is similar to a sports official being required to have been a former player. There is no substitute for experience.
Therefore, the answer is yes.
Yes, I feel that my years as a courtroom judge qualify me to be a prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.