In the Sept. 27 edition of the Oldham Era, a candidate for Commonwealth Attorney ran an ad regarding local attorneys’ support of Courtney Baxter for Commonwealth Attorney. The candidate asks, in his ad, “What do they expect to receive in return?” As past-president and 30-year member of the local bar association, the former head of the Public Defenders Office, contributing member of the committee that wrote the local rules for civil and criminal practice, and Courtney Baxter support, I can answer that question.
Competence. As the only prosecutor in this race, I expect her to bring the same level of professionalism to this job that she has brought to her long career, including her role as the assistant to the current Commonwealth Attorney. In every case, I expect her to know the law, which she does, and the fact. I expect her to follow her oath to fairly represent the victims of crime and to temper that with her overriding responsibility to make sure justice is done. No one who has regularly practiced with or against Mrs. Baxter doubts that this will be true.
Compassion. Mrs. Baxter has represented the Commonwealth in some of the most challenging cases that face prosecutors — those involving sexual assault. I have seen first-hand the empathy she feels for those who have suffered as the result of a criminal act. At the same time, I have seen Mrs. Baxter take into account the real life situations that face all those involved in the criminal justice system. As a career prosecutor, Mrs. Baxter understands her role.
Connection with the local community: Mrs. Baxter has an office on Main Street in La Grange and goes there every day to work. She appears weekly in the Courts of this Judicial Circuit. She has ongoing relationships with local police agencies and has been endorsed by area sheriffs. She knows the courthouse personnel and is familiar with the local rules of practice. She is active in many local civic organizations. Her door is always open. Mrs. Baxter is a known quantity to the local bar, and for that reason, we support her.
Commitment. I have represented clients, in this county, against the last four elected felony court prosecutors — Bruce Hamilton, Bill Croley, Kim Snell and Barry Moore. One thing that each had was experience, in this county, as an assistant prior to seeking the awesome responsibility as chief prosecutor. The Office of Commonwealth Attorney is no place for on-the-job training. With each of the above, I knew that there would be no easy breaks. I knew that there would be no freebies. I knew that the success or failure of my case would depend on the facts of the case, the law and my skills as a litigator. Nothing else mattered. Mrs. Baxter has followed that time-tested path, and I expect her to do so in the future. In addition, after long-standing Oldham County Attorney John Fendley’s tragic and untimely death created a vacancy in that critical position, Mrs. Baxter put her life and career on hold and agreed to step in as appointed county attorney. We expect that type of commitment from our Commonwealth Attorney.
The desperate ad of her challenger unfairly maligns both Mrs. Baxter, for having the qualities that the residents of this county have the right to expect, and the local bar for supporting her in recognition of those qualities.
Perhaps if the challenger were a regular participant in the local criminal justice system, a member of the local bar association, or even a familiar face to most of its members, he would understand why we support Courtney Baxter.