A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Breaking: Louis Kelly files letter of intent to seek Tally Smith’s 54th Circuit Commonwealth Attorney seat

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Louis Kelly of Union has announced his intent to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 54th Circuit, the seat currently held by Linda Tally Smith.

The seat is on the ballot in November, 2018, with a primary election to take place in May


Kelly, a Republican, is a partner at the law firm of Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, PLLC and is a former prosecutor and Assistant Boone County Attorney.

Kelly said in a release announcing his candidacy that he chose to run because he believes Tally Smith “has lost the public trust.”

Tally Smith has been under scrutiny because of information revealed in a hearing to determine if convicted killer David Dooley will get a new trial. In 2014, Dooley was convicted of killing Michelle Mockbee in 2012 at the Thermo Scientific facility in Florence where both worked.

A thumb drive submitted to the Kentucky Attorney General by a former employee raised questions about Tally Smith’s conduct during the investigation into Mockbee’s killing.

Last month, Circuit Court Judge James R. Schrand ruled Dooley is entitled to a new trial.

Included in the thumb drive was information that exculpatory evidence may have been withheld from Dooley’s defense team.

It also contained information, which Tally Smith has since confirmed, that she had an affair with lead investigator and then-Boone County Detective Bruce McVay. McVay, who has since retired, also confirmed the affair.

Tally Smith is married to District Judge Jeffrey Smith.

There have been calls from several elected officials for Tally Smith to resign in light of the questions regarding her conduct, but she remains adamant that she will not step down. She has not said whether she intends to seek reelection next year.

Tally Smith

The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance confirms that Kelly is the first person to file a letter of intent for the seat. A letter of intent allows a candidate to raise funds, but is not an official filing of candidacy.

Candidates can officially file for this seat on or after November 8, according to the Boone County Clerk’s office.

Here is the text of Kelly’s press release:

On May 25, 2017, Attorney Louis Kelly filed a letter of intent with Kentucky Registry of Election Finance to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 54th Circuit comprised of Boone and Gallatin Counties in the 2018 primary and general elections.

“In light of recent events, it has become clear to me that we need new leadership in the Commonwealth’s Attorney office,” said Kelly. “The most critical component of the criminal justice system is public trust. Unfortunately, I believe the current Commonwealth’s Attorney has lost the public trust. That is why I am seeking this office.”

A resident of Union, Kentucky, Kelly is a partner at the law firm of Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, PLLC. He is a former prosecutor and Assistant Boone County Attorney. Since going into private practice, he has handled felony and misdemeanor criminal cases all over Northern Kentucky. In addition to criminal work, Kelly has worked on civil cases before the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Kentucky Supreme Court, and United States District Court. He also serves as prosecutor for administrative agencies and public bodies in disciplinary hearings.

 “I look forward to getting out and meeting the voters of Boone and Gallatin Counties,” said Kelly. “Together we can restore confidence in the criminal justice system and ensure that the rights of all citizens of the 54th Circuit are protected.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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  1. Bill Berkshire says:

    Do not worry Linda Tally Smith. Louis Kelly is all tip and no iceberg. Besides, impartial news outlets such as the intrepid NKY TRIBUNE will have your back.

  2. Louis Kelly says:

    DUde, we have the same name

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