From incidents like hogs trampling through gardens to gruesome murders, Kerry Harvey has been involved in the prosecution of a wide-range of legal cases.
Harvey's actions as a prosecutor have shown that he knows the law backward and forward, and knows just when to insert a dollop of common sense into a case, according to his friend, Marshall County Circuit Judge Dennis Foust.
Earlier this month, Harvey took on a legal caseload a lot heavier than the caseload he had as Marshall County attorney in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was sworn in as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, an achievement he considers the pinnacle of his career.
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"It's a distinct honor to be considered for the job," Harvey said recently during an interview at his new office on Vine Street in Lexington. U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., played a pivotal role in Harvey's being nominated for the position.
"Congressman Chandler and I have been friends for a long time," he said.
Harvey's been spending his first few days on the job getting to know the approximately 45 assistant U.S. attorneys and the 50 or so other staffers at the U.S. attorney's office headquarters in Lexington and offices in London and Fort Mitchell.
"It really is a very impressive group," he said. "I don't know that I consider myself a boss. I have a role to play. It's a leadership role," he said.
Although Harvey's job as U.S. attorney is largely a managerial one, he hopes to spend some time in the courtroom, he said.
It's a little early to talk about issues on which he intends to focus as top federal prosecutor for the eastern part of the state, he said. But, he said, vigilance is required when it comes to terrorism, and the times dictate that his office will have a certain amount of interest in financial crimes. He said the U.S. attorney's office has a reputation for prosecuting crimes against children and cases involving political corruption and prescription drug abuse, and he expects to maintain emphasis in those areas.
For now, Harvey said, "I am just trying to climb up a very steep learning curve."
Ellen Hesen, general counsel for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, said the Eastern District is fortunate to have someone of Harvey's caliber as U.S. attorney.
"He has a talent for bringing people with opposing views together, said Hesen.
"Kerry was and is one of the best prepared, best lawyers that I've ever had practice in front of me," Foust said. "Kerry is one who can combine both intellectual ability and common sense. He's no nonsense. He gets to the heart of the matter, and he analyzes and deals with legal issues as well as anyone I've ever seen," he said.
Harvey, who comes to the U.S. attorney's office from a stint as general counsel to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, where he managed a staff of about 35 attorneys, is soft-spoken and modest when it comes to his accomplishments.
Asked about being ranked first in his 1982 class at the University of Kentucky College of Law, he said with a smile, "It might have been a typo, I don't know."
Harvey doesn't ascribe to an old adage that if a person talks loud enough, he or she would be right.
"I was never much of a yeller," he said.
Harvey, 53, was born in Madisonville and spent the first three years of his life in Webster County, then moved to Marshall County, which he considers home. He now lives in Lexington.
His father, the late Morris Harvey, a chemical plant worker and a machine gunner during World War II who was wounded twice, was a "stereotypical Greatest Generation guy" who tried to teach his son about the wonderful characteristics of that generation, he said.
Harvey's mother, Marge, waited tables at Hutchens Hot Pig barbecue restaurant in Benton, the subject of a commercial heard in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter, for many years.
Harvey majored in political science and minored in business administration at Murray State University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1978. He went on to do insurance claims work in Roanoke, Va. The insurance company talked about sending him to law school at night. The law school talk led him to quit the insurance job and go to law school full-time at UK. Harvey's brother, Lane, is a lawyer in Mount Vernon, Ill.
Kerry Harvey was an associate at the law firm Brown, Todd & Heyburn in Louisville and Lexington in the early 1980s, before returning to Marshall County to serve as county attorney and work as a partner in a private law firm.
Much of his work has been related to health care, something he first got involved with when he was asked to serve on the Baptist Healthcare System's board of directors in 1995. On that board until 2003, he was its chairman from 2001 until 2003.
Harvey has been on a number of other health care-related and banking-related boards. Named to the Murray State University board of regents in 1988, he was chairman of that board from 1989 to 1992.
Harvey and his wife, Dana, have two daughters, Jessica, who will enter UK law school this fall, and Abby, who just finished her sophomore year at Western Kentucky University.
Harvey likes photography, even though he's not very good at it, UK sports and spending time on his boat at Kentucky Lake, he said.
He planned to go to the lake over the weekend for the first time since recent heavy rains hit the state.
"I hope my boat will still float," he said last week.