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New commonwealth's attorney sworn in

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Shane Young and staff face busy first day

By Sarah Bennett

Six years ago, former Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel encouraged Shane Young to run for the prosecutor position in Hardin County, but Stengel said Young told his former boss he didn’t think he was ready.

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On Monday, Stengel stood in the crowd of law enforcement, public officials, attorneys and community members who gathered at Elizabethtown Police Department as Young was sworn in as the Ninth Circuit commonwealth’s attorney.

Though Monday marked Young’s first day in office, the prosecutor said his staff was busy.

“We empanelled a grand jury and heard a couple cases,” Young said.

Today is the first call of the motion docket, which typically is held the first Tuesday of every month. According to Young, more than 100 inmates are on the docket.

A jury trial in a drug possession case is set for Wednesday, he said, and the grand jury meets again Thursday. Friday marks the first official day of the rocket docket that expedites non-violent cases — a program Young plans to re-launch.

Young plans to advance cases more quickly through the court system. A goal he said he began Monday by having the grand jury report a few cases in Hardin Circuit Court.

The new prosecutor intends for the grand jury to meet not only every Thursday, but also report cases for indictment that same day as opposed to doing it all at once at the end of the month, he said.

Maj. Jamie Land, deputy chief of patrol at EPD, said rocket docket’s re-introduction and quicker progression of cases could potentially cut down on overtime costs because officers will be required to spend less time in court.

Land estimated an officer spends a minimum of 50 to 60 hours a year in a courtroom.

“If he can get the rocket docket off the ground, it’s a huge benefit for us,” the major said.

Radcliff Police Chief Jeff Cross said he is looking forward to working with Young, who has promised increased communication between the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and police.

“He’s going to be available to us,” Cross said. “We’re all going to be on the same team.”

Jeremy Aldridge, a private attorney who has worked in Hardin County for 11 years, said he believes Young’s history as a defense attorney and prosecutor will provide him with an understanding of both sides.

“I think defendants will be treated fairly,” he said.

After Hardin Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton swore in Young and his staff, the new prosecutor explained the two rules of his office: “do justice” and “don’t screw it up.”

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.