Dave Stengel

Politics
4:15 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell Faces Political Threats Amid Legal Controversies

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell
Credit louisvilleky.gov

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell is rejecting a private ethics sanction from the Kentucky Bar Association.

As a result he is facing harsher penalties and increased scrutiny from critics, who are openly recruiting former Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel to run against O'Connell next year.

In January, O’Connell wrote a stinging letter to Jefferson district court judges demanding they put a stop certain legal maneuvers in DUI cases. A number of judges and defense lawyers called O'Connell's letter "inappropriate," and asked for ethics sanctions to be filed.

The Courier-Journal reported this week an inquiry commission ruled on May 8 that O’Connell violated rules barring attorneys from contacting judges without the other side present.

Legal observers are surprised O’Connell made the matter public, and many critics acknowledge it has given momentum to efforts at recruiting Stengel to take on the incumbent county attorney in 2014.

"I don’t know if you want to call it arrogance, feistiness or defiance. But I think (O'Connell) has made it clear that he’s going to do what he wants and doesn’t care what anybody has to say or do about it," says defense attorney Christian Mascagni.

"I call tell you there are many private attorneys who would love Mr. Stengel to run against him. I believe that especially in light of what's come out now, if Mr. Stengel were to run—and we're all hoping that he will—I think he would be a very tough candidate for Mr. O'Connell."

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