Opinion: Dan Jehl on Karen Richards

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Karen Richards for Allen County Prosecutor-A public mandate

On November 2, Karen Richards will be re-elected as Allen County Prosecuting Attorney. It only takes one voter to do so.  Richards is campaigning unopposed to serve the more than 348,000 Allen County residents, a role she has performed with grace since 2003.

This will be her third four-year term of office. She’s earned another term and a vote of confidence on Election Day.  It should be a public mandate reflecting the prevailing public view that “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Richards directs one of the largest law firms in Allen County. There are more than 100 lawyers, paralegals, investigators, management and support personnel. The office is multi-cultural, including Hispanics, African-Americans, and more.

This public firm handles thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases annually, including homicides and child support collections. The Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office anticipates more than 40 million dollars in child support collections this year.  In 2009, the office filed more than 2,500 new felony cases.

According to the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Homepage, Richards works to protect the citizens of Allen County using a team effort with law enforcement.  She subscribes to the belief that justice requires a prosecutor who is capable, fair, ethical, tough on criminals and compassionate towards victims.

Born in Chicago, Richards graduated from Fort Wayne Snider High School. After earning a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law, she began her law career as a Law Clerk with Allen County Superior Court. In the early 1980’s, she served as Allen County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the Sex Crimes Division. Her cases involved rape, child molesting, child abuse, child and adult homicides and domestic violence. She initiated the Sex Crimes Unit, including a mentoring program for new staff.

Her home page explains that when she was a deputy prosecutor, Richards tried more than 100 felony jury trials and more than half as many misdemeanor jury trials, as well as nearly 1,000 misdemeanor bench trials.

Richards holds the record in the State of Indiana for one of the longest prison sentences awarded in a non-murder case.  This was a sentence of 320 years for a serial rapist who abducted women, locked them in the trunks of their cars, and abused them.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette recently wrote this about Karen Richards:   “Zealous advocate for the victim; that’s a role in which she’s comfortable.”

Richards is a nationally recognized speaker on issues of child abuse. She has served on the Mayor’s Commission on Domestic Violence, Rape, and Sexual Harassment; Child Mortality Review Team;  the Allen County Child Protection Team; and the Indiana Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee.

She has been a court-approved mediator in family law cases by the Supreme Court of Indiana Commission of Continuing Legal Education.

Why is Karen E. Richards pursuing re-election?

She told this writer: “I had been a deputy prosecuting attorney for 21 years and felt I had both the experience and the desire to advocate for victims, improve the collection of child support, and make our office run more effectively and efficiently.

I felt that I was the most appropriate person to serve the community as the elected prosecuting attorney, given my background with the office.”

Richards has accomplishments, and also has goals to pursue.

“My goals for the next term include exploring the possibility of making the office more efficient by becoming paperless and continuing to work toward increased collection of child support, and advocating for victims.

“Advocating for victims includes an increased emphasis on elder abuse and violent crimes committed against the citizens of our community,” she said.

Her outside of the office interests include gardening and volunteering for various non-profit agency boards.

She has served as the President of the Architecture and Community Heritage (ARCH) Board of Directors.  ARCH is a premier Fort Wayne Historic Preservation organization. She has served on the boards of SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) and Crossroad Children’s Home.

Richards’ role models are her parents and Nelson Mandela, the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Mandela was the first South African president to be elected in a true multi-nationality, representative democratic election in South Africa. Today at the age of 92, he continues to pursue representative democracy and promote people voting in free and open elections for their public leaders.

We can do that on Election Day, November 2.

It takes voters to reelect Karen Richards and other deserving candidates.

For Richards, a vote is a vote of public confidence for what she has done and what she plans to continue do for us all.

It’s a free nation’s opportunity to support a deserving person as a public mandate.

For information about voting locations and times and more, please contact the Allen County Election Board by phone at (260) 449-7329 or on the Worldwide Web.

For information about the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, please call (260) 449-7641 or access allencountyprosecutor.com.

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