Neil Kerr ready to put experience to work as next Commonwealth's Attorney

Posted on October 29, 2018 8:53 PM

“I love being in the courtroom. I enjoy preparing and presenting arguments. The competitor in me thrives on the challenge to persuade a judge or jury to side with my client,” Neil Kerr says. “This is why I went to law school. I’ve been sharpening my tools for 12 years leading up to this.”

The this he is referring to is his desire to serve as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Logan and Todd counties. e won the primary election this spring against quality competition and now is the Republican nominee for the office in the Nov. 6 election.

The 1997 Russellville High School graduate has spent a dozen years practicing law in Logan and Todd counties. He served as an attorney in the Todd County-based firm of Dillingham, Ritchie & Petrie and later in the Logan County-based firm of Morgan & Williams before working as judicial staff attorney for Logan-Todd Circuit Judge Tyler Gill.

Those firms were filled with attorneys dedicated to public service. Dillingham is a former district judge, and Williams is the current district judge for Logan and Todd counties. Jason Petrie serves those counties as state representative. Corey Morgan is running for commonwealth’s attorney in Simpson and Allen counties. And, of course, Gill continues as circuit judge. It is in his court that the commonwealth’s attorney serves as prosecutor.

Kerr believes the many cases in which he has been a defense attorney for over a decade will be a great asset to him as the prosecutor. He knows how defense attorneys think and prepare for cases, and he has observed what works well for prosecutors and what comes up short.

He has represented clients in 14 counties in Kentucky on a variety of matters. “It is not just criminal law that has shaped me as lawyer, my experience in complex litigation and highly contested custody battles has helped hone my skills as lawyer,” Kerr says.

The work load in Logan Circuit Court has increased dramatically in recent years. “There were 248 felony cases in 2010. Last year that had increased to 430, up over 70 percent in Logan County and 40 percent in Todd,” he notes. “Much of the increase in arrests has come from drug cases. In those two counties, drug charges have increased by nearly 125 percent in just the past five years. In many of those cases, children have been neglected or abused as a result of drug use.”

“I promise this: no attorney will out-work me in preparing for a case. Not only do I hate to lose, but I never want my clients to feel that their attorney was not well enough prepared to win their case,” he says. “I don’t want to be embarrassed, and I want my clients always to believe they had the best attorney and that I fought for them.”

“Most cases resolve by plea bargaining. My philosophy will be to make fair and consistent offers to defendants. However, if a defendant is unwilling to accept the offer, I will absolutely take the case to trial and let a jury decide his fate. There are many cases where a plea bargain allows someone to continue to be a productive member of society and to provide for their family, while also being held accountable for their actions. There are also cases where as a prosecutor you have to remain firm on the penalty, even if that means going to trial.”

Kerr has a history of public service. In addition to serving under Judge Gill early in his career, he is Russellville City Attorney and serves Lewisburg in the same capacity. He shares city attorney responsibilities in Adairville with James Milam.

A former standout soccer player at RHS, he has coached youth soccer for several years, including now. He is a member of the Logan County School District Facilities Committee and is a former member of the Logan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He has been a Rotarian. His wife Emily is vice president of the Chandler’s School PTO, serves on the school’s Site Based Decision Making Council, and is a member of the Parent Advisory Council.

Neil and Emily Kerr have built the private law practice located on East Fourth Street in Russellville. “We built it from scratch,” he says. “In the early years it was just the two of us. Emily was my secretary and our son, Harrison, who was just a baby, came to work with us, and we were at the office late into the night. We have worked really hard to build a successful law firm, but I am willing to give it up to serve as Commonwealth’s Attorney for the area in which I grew up.”

Neil is the son of Russellville dentist Dr. Paul Kerr and retired school teacher Marsha Kerr of Bowling Green. He is the grandson of the late Logan County civic leader and Todd County magistrate John Kerr, who was the second plant manager of Rockwell Manufacturing Company in Russellville. Neil is a lifelong resident of Logan County, but says he feels a strong connection to Todd County since his father was raised on a farm in Allensville, which is where Neil spent much of his childhood with relatives.

After graduating from RHS, Neil Kerr went on to Lipscomb University in Nashville, where he graduated cum laude in 2001 with a B. S. in Biology, and minors in Philosophy and Political Science. Prior to graduation, he was nominated for an internship with the Tennessee State Legislature and thereafter was selected to serve as the intern for legendary Tennessee State Senator Thelma Harper.

Next, he attended law school at the University of Kentucky and graduated in 2006. He has remained loyal to his alma mater as a supporter of UK basketball.

Immediately after taking the bar exam, he returned to his hometown of Russellville and began practicing law.

Neil Kerr believes he is ready to take the next step as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Logan and Todd counties.

Political advertisement paid for by Neil Kerr

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