Ken Richardson, a Cape Girardeau native who received his law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Ill., began working in the Mississippi County prosecuting attorney's office Aug. 1. "I'm working with some wonderful people and I intend to give it 110 percent," he said about his new position.
"I'm really happy to have him," said Darren Cann, Mississippi County prosecuting attorney. "We've already working together on quite a few cases, getting him familiar with them. He's doing really good."
Richardson worked for about two years in the Missouri Attorney General's satellite office in Cape Girardeau before accepting the job in Mississippi County.
Before working for the attorney general, Richardson was a staff attorney for the Division of Child Enforcement in Cape Girardeau for about two and a half years.
Richardson said he is pleased that his new position allows him to continue to work on child support cases.
"That will be one of my primary responsibilities within the office," Richardson said. "We may not be able to make this a perfect world in which children do not suffer, but we can reduce the number of suffering children. Child support is a big deal everywhere and we have a significant number of cases in Mississippi County. I think there's nothing more important than providing for the needs of the next generation."
Richardson is also is enjoying the wider variety of cases he is able to work on now, however.
"I'm finding it intellectually stimulating and challenging," he said. "I've been interested in criminal law but I've never been able to give it the attention I wanted until now. Previously I'd been dealing almost exclusively with child support issues, particularly child support modifications, and was interested first in criminal contempt as an option of enforcing against deadbeat dads and moms." In his two previous positions, Richardson's efforts were all civil in nature.
"Of course I'll be generally helping with the load overall, but I will also be taking a special look at any gun violence and gun-related crimes," Richardson said.
The county's previous assistant prosecutor, Neal Frazier, left the prosecutor's office and joined the military to serve as a judge advocate general after the special gun prosecutor grant which funded his position ran out.
"What has happened here is the county commission has decided to extend their commitment to that previous grant," Richardson said. "I think it is effective - it's hard to say where we would be without the special attention on gun violence we've had in this county. We'll never be able to stop all of it, but I am certain that our efforts have curtailed it."
Richardson said the Mississippi County prosecuting attorney's office deals with dozens of gun violence and gun-related crimes. "I would say it's a major problem," he said.
"He'll have more than his fair share of that in this county," Cann said.