McCracken Co. prosecutor seeking circuit court judge seat
A McCracken County assistant commonwealth’s attorney is running to be one of two circuit court judges for the county, following a longtime judge announcing last month he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2022.
60-year-old Charles “Chuck” Walter has been a private attorney since 1986 — located in Paducah for decades — where he’s litigated a variety of personal injury and malpractice cases including car accidents, product liability, and adverse possession cases. He said he entered public service in August 2019 as a public defender primarily in the 1st Judicial Circuit covering Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton counties. He has been a prosecutor in McCracken County since May, litigating criminal cases ranging from burglaries, murder and rape charges.
He believes his experience in the courtroom with both civil and criminal cases, serving with the prosecution and defense, makes him qualified to run a courtroom.
“I think I've got the bona fides to work as a judge. To work as someone who's not going to make up the law but who's going to apply the law, and who's going to apply it fairly to everybody,” Walter said. “No matter where they're from, what their name is, what they look like, how they live their lives, what they believe, who they pray to — I'll be fair.”
Generally in Kentucky, circuit court judges hear criminal felony cases and major civil cases in their judicial circuits. A circuit court judge makes an annual salary of about $131,000 dollars and serves an eight-year term. Judicial elections in Kentucky are nonpartisan.
Walter said becoming a judge has been a longtime goal of his after being passed for judicial appointments from previous governors. He said previous governors such as Matt Bevin and Steve Beshear nominated prosecutors to the bench with little civil case experience, which he believes he can bring to the judgeship.
He also said impartiality in the courtroom is “paramount” in regards to keeping and maintaining trust in the judiciary. He said his financial interests are minimal, primarily his house and retirement savings account. But he said he would make sure at a minimum to disclose a relationship he has with a litigant if a case came before his court where he had a personal relationship with someone.
“I have my political beliefs, but I leave those at the door. I'm not coming in as a Democrat or Republican,” Walter said. “'I’m going to do my best by people. But at the end of the day, I've got to enforce the law. And that's gonna upset some people sometimes.”
The election for circuit court judge in McCracken County’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, along with other circuit court judge races, is in 2022. Walter is currently the only candidate to have filed in the race so far.