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Two GOP candidates seek Commonwealth Attorney job in May 22 primary

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Winner will face Democrat in November

By Tracy Harris

Three candidates are running for commonwealth attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit. 

Kentucky has 57 judicial circuits and the commonwealth’s attorney is the chief prosecutor for crimes in that district.

Republicans Courtney Baxter and John Shaughnessy will vie for the primary election while William Carter is running as an uncontested Democrat.

Baxter says she is the only candidate with prosecutorial experience, including serving as an assistant commonwealth attorney for the past six years.

She has primarily been responsible for prosecuting sex offenders and has been involved in a variety of criminal cases, including murder cases and a number of jury trials.

Baxter gained administrative experience managing the county attorney’s office in 2010 after being appointed to fill the remainder of the late John Fendley’s term.

Shaughnessy said while he has not prosecuted a case, he has tried a number of personal injury and criminal defense cases. 

Shaughnessy cited his experience as counsel for Brent Burke, the Army sergeant charged with murdering his estranged wife and her former mother-in-law in 2007.

Shaughnessy joined the defense team for the fourth and last of Burke’s four civilian trials. All four resulted in mistrials, two because of hung juries — including the one Shaughnessy defended. A military panel convicted Burke on murder charges May 9.

Carter is Shaughnessy’s stepfather and they practice law together, including representing Burke.