As the Campbell County Attorney, Steve brings a strong work ethic to his job as the county’s chief prosecutor — an attitude cultivated after years of hard work and dedication not only in the field of law but in all endeavors he has pursued in life.
As a young boy, Steve caddied at Highland Country Club in Fort Thomas before moving on to other jobs, such as pumping gas, waiting on tables, and tending bars. During high school and college, he also worked in housekeeping and in the laundry room at St. Luke Hospital in Fort Thomas.
But Steve’s favorite part-time job was working as a bus driver for the National Park Service at Glacier National Park, where he worked during the summers of law school. The park – located in northern Montana near the Canadian border – is known for its pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. “It just a beautiful place to live, even if it was for just a couple of summers,” Steve said. “It was great being there with my college buddies, having a great time, because I knew that I would soon be out of law school with the responsibilities that come with being a lawyer, and ultimately, a father.”
Steve grew up in Cold Spring, where he attended St. Joseph School until the eighth grade. He then attended Campbell County High School, where he was a two-sport athlete as a wide receiver and a defensive end on the football team and as a forward on the basketball team.
After high school, Steve attended the University of Kentucky, where he graduated in 1979 with a degree in history and a minor in business. He then went to Chase Law School, obtaining his law degree in 1982.
“I loved law school,” Steve said. “I had finally found something that I was really interested in. I was a very idealistic young man; I wanted to help people, and I loved to argue – great traits for a trial attorney.”
After law school and his summers in Montana, Steve joined the law firm of Jolly and Blau. He worked with the firm for one year before taking a staff attorney position with Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Donald Wintersheimer, a position he held for two years.
In 1985, Steve joined the Office of Campbell County Attorney Paul Twehues, where he worked as an assistant county prosecutor handling DUI trials, juvenile felonies, and child abuse and dependency cases. In addition, he served as an assistant city solicitor for the City of Newport, defending the City in civil rights actions and representing the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission and its Board of Adjustments.
In November 2010, Steve was elected Campbell County Attorney. As County Attorney, Steve is the legal adviser to the fiscal court. He is also responsible for the collection of court-ordered child support payments. His office also prosecutes all misdemeanor cases in Campbell County, including DUIs, assaults, bad checks, thefts, and juvenile cases.
From 1985 until the present, he has maintained a private law practice in Newport. While he can no longer practice criminal law, as he did before being elected County Attorney, Steve still maintains a general legal practice and focuses on civil litigation, including contract, business, and negligence litigation, such as products liability, commercial liability, and personal injury cases.
Steve currently serves as the legal adviser for the City of Highland Heights, a position he has held since 1986, and he served as the City Attorney for the City of Crestview for 10 years until 1996. Prior to being elected County Attorney in 2010, Steve served as a public defender for nine years and said that the experience was great training for his job as county prosecutor.
“It gives you great perspective,” he said. “My job as prosecutor is to resolve criminal issues in the best interest of society and the interest of victims of crime. A criminal defense’s lawyer job is to resolve them in the best interest of his client. Because I understand both roles, I am able to make better decisions that brings both justice and fairness to the process.”
Steve said he thinks his approach as County Attorney can be summed up in three words: Firm. Fair. Realistic.
“The challenge of being a County Attorney right now – or any elected official for that matter – is trying to deliver the services that the public expects with increasingly limited resources,” he said.
To deal with this challenge, Steve has worked with local judges and the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts to offer the Campbell County Attorney Traffic School. Under this program, drivers who receive citations for minor traffic violations — such as speeding or running a stop sign — can register for the online traffic school instead of going to court. Once the online course is completed, the ticket can be dismissed.
“To be effective, my office must prioritize and focus its energies on the most serious crimes facing our community – DUIs, child-abuse cases, assaults, and thefts,” Steve said. “The online traffic school frees up our time and our judges’ time so that we all can concentrate on these more serious crimes.”
“Furthermore, the online traffic school requires people who have violated traffic laws to help fund the office, which relieves some of the tax burden borne by law-abiding citizens.”
Steve and his wife, the former Debbie McKinley, live in Fort Thomas. They have three children: Leah, 26; Nick, 22; and McKinley, 16.