Gary Conn has been working in local courtrooms for a long time. It’s the kind of experience he feels is important for a Family Court Judge to have.
Conn, who serves as 32nd District Assistant Commonwealth Attorney for Rhonda Copley, grew up in Elliott County and was born in Dayton, Ohio “Because there were no doctors in Elliott County back then.” His home stretch was known as “Cracker’s Neck” during Conn’s childhood, when his grandfather, Bill, ran Murray’s Grocery. He later moved to Ashland and graduated from Fairview High School in 1962.
A member of the University of Kentucky Law School Class of 1968, where Conn counted Steve Beshear and Mitch McConnell among his classmates. He served on the Kentucky Law Journal, which required him to be among the top 10 percent of his class, and passed his bar exam on the first try.
On The Job Experience
He accepted a job for the “sixth-largest accounting firm in the world,” in Dayton, Ohio – “I was their tax department,” he said. Noting he was married with a child before graduating law school, Conn said he moved back to Morehead where he worked for Northeast Kentucky Legal Services.
“I was the second attorney to work the Morehead office,” Conn said, explaining he enjoyed the position until 1970 when he came to Grayson to work with County Attorney Gary Littleton until 1979. He then accepted a partnership with C.B. Creech at Creech, Conn & Dill in Ashland.
“That’s where I got a huge practice in divorce cases,” Conn said, recalling he handled two-thirds or 500 divorce cases in less than two years. When he was offered an opportunity to be in-house counsel for Commercial Bank in West Liberty, Conn said, “I could not resist.”
Conn said he didn’t want to leave Sandy Hook, and opened a law office there in 1992. “I handled everything buddy, I’ll tell you,” he said with a chuckle, adding he handled many deed and title tasks there.
He accepted the Assistant Commonwealth Attorney position in 2008, serving with David Flatt, then moved to Grayson and practiced law until he was appointed Commonwealth Attorney in late 2009.
“David Flatt was appointed Family Court Judge and Governor Beshear appointed me as Commonwealth Attorney,” Conn said, noting he stepped into that job nine months after having open heart surgery.
“That’s when I learned I could really work hard,” he said, laughing when asked to estimate how many hours per week he spent on the job – “It was at least 60. 80 to 90 if we had murder cases.”
Conn served in that position until 2013 when he was defeated by Brandon Ison.
“It was the only race on the ballot and we had the lowest voter turnout in the history of Carter County. Eight percent turnout,” he said. He went to work as an Assistant County Attorney in Boyd County, “And I’ve been there ever since.”
Along the way, Conn said he was never far from family concerns and domestic issues, including service from 1989 until 2002 as Domestic Relations Commissioner for Carter, Elliott and Morgan County. “I was the divorce judge. Everybody called me that,” he said, explaining he followed the same rules as a circuit judge.
Family Court, he said, “is better than before,” when judges had to make decisions including declaration of fault in a divorce case. Family Court eliminated one step in the legal process for attorneys, thus saving litigants some legal fees, he said.
Campaigning During Covid 19
“Oh, it’s awful. I can’t even go to my best friend’s house. I went to visit him and he said, ‘I’ll vote for you, but don’t come any closer!” Conn added he has never touched Assistant County Attorney Christina Smith’s baby since the child was born.
If elected, Conn said he feels his experiences give him the best qualifications for the job.
“I hate to say maturity, but that’s the word. I know how to be fair and unbiased because I’ve done it before. My experience from both sides in divorce and representing many juveniles, and experience as a prosecutor – It helps you understand the magnitude of some of the problems we have today.”
“The simple way to say it is is I’ve been there and I’ve done that.”
“The hardest thing for a judge is you have to learn to listen. As a judge you can’t stop listening until it’s over. And don’t make any decisions before it is over.”
Family & Fun
Conn and his wife, Nancy, have been married nearly 30 years and they have five children, five grandchildren, four cats and two dogs (a Shih Tsu and a Lapsa Apso). Conn said he enjoyed playing tennis until a back injury ended that pursuit. Now, he enjoys treasure hunting with Nancy.
“I antique with my wife. My weekends are spent seeking and picking up antiques,” he said. Conn looks for Victorian era furniture and reports his spouse “goes Ga-Ga” collecting dishes. Smiling, he noted they met when he bought a set of dishes at Stone & Thomas, where she worked at the time.
For more information about Gary Conn visit
Story & Photo by TIM PRESTON
Carter County Post