Monk set to retire as County Attorney

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By Dave Taylor

Every four years since 1990 you’ve seen the name on the local election ballot as a candidate for Carroll County Attorney. Likely you’ve seen the name on roadside campaign signs down through the years, and it has become quite familiar to you. However, the name is missing from the ballot this year. Jim Monk is stepping aside after 23 years.

“I’m not retiring totally,” Monk said on Monday. “I will still work in my private office, but I’m going to slow down some.”

Monk and wife Kay have two children. Their son Greg lives in Oldham County and works as a physical therapist in Louisville. He is married with three children. Daughter Kelly is front-end manager of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Florence where she is in charge of the gift section.

“Maybe we’ll do some traveling and sight-seeing,” Monk said of him and his wife. “We enjoy camping. We plan to spend more time with our grandchildren.”

Monk grew up in Castlewood, Va., located in the southwest corner of that state not far from Bristol, Tenn.

“My father was a coal miner there,” he said.

He became a Kentuckian after attending Berea College in Berea, Ky. After he passed the bar examination in 1977, Monk “worked a couple of years as an insurance adjuster.” A friend from law school suggested he establish a law practice in Carrollton.

“I had never been in this area in my life,” he said. “I came up here and liked it, and I’ve been here ever since.”

As an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Monk worked as a prosecuting attorney until the late Carroll County Attorney Stanton Baker fell ill. Monk was approached about filling in for the ailing Baker and took over that role until Baker’s death in 1988.

“I was appointed in April 1988 when Stanton died and I’ve been the county attorney here coming up on 23 years now.”

The county attorney’s office performs many services and duties including the prosecution of all violations of criminal law within the jurisdiction of the district court. That includes all misdemeanors, such as DUI offenses, other traffic violations, assault and theft of less than $300.

County attorneys have prosecutorial jurisdiction over juvenile issues, which include criminal acts, dependency, neglect, and abuse, according to the Web site www.kycountyattorneys.org. County attorneys also work with judges to issue emergency protective orders in domestic violence cases, handle extraditions, and oversee mental commitments and disability cases.

County attorneys are often referred to as the public’s first line of defense in Kentucky’s judicial system because they come in contact with practically all criminals in the court system.

In circuit court, county attorneys handle felony preliminary hearings and prosecute to recover delinquent taxes.

In addition to these prosecutorial duties, Monk as county attorney has served the county government’s executive branch as counsel to fiscal court and county officials in all legal issues.

When those responsibilities are handed over to the next county attorney at the end of 2010, Monk anticipates spending more time in pursuit of his favorite pastimes.

Monk is very active in the Carrollton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where he has been a member since the 1980s.

“I enjoy working at my church there on Fifth Street,” he said. “I sing in the choir and in the men’s quartet there. I started singing in the choir right after I joined.

“Music is my favorite hobby right now,” he said. “I play guitar, mandolin and banjo and I sing. I play mandolin and sing with a band called The Muddy Loafers.”

Monk also plays about three times a month with a collection of musicians who entertain at area nursing homes, including the Waters of Clifty Falls in Madison, Ind., and at Green Valley and New Horizons in Carrollton.

His favorite types of music are “bluegrass and old country,” he said. “My main hobby used to be horses and trail riding. I still have seven horses but I don’t ride much anymore. Music has taken over as my main hobby.”