Trailblazing Kentucky federal prosecutor dies after farm accident

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mikell Grafton, a trailblazing lawyer who was one of the first two female prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky — and who was admired for her zeal and compassion — has died.

She was 69. 

Grafton died Tuesday at the University of Louisville Hospital, a day after she fell and hit her head while unloading hay bales from a pickup truck at her 13-acre farm in Prospect, according to William McMurry, her ex-husband with whom she practiced law. 

He said she may have fainted before the fall after working most of the night on a brief. 

As a federal prosecutor from 1978 to 1983, Grafton tried cases of immigration fraud, white-collar fraud, bank robbery and illegal drug conspiracies. 

Attorney Mikell Grafton

McMurry said she tried as many as 10 cases against legendary defense lawyer Frank Haddad and won them all.

“She was a tough, hard-driving woman and a great trial lawyer,” McMurry said.

In Facebook posts, fellow lawyers saluted her.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said she was a “super-smart attorney” and a “very fine person.”

Attorney Al Welsh, who worked with her on several cases, said: “She was a passionate advocate for justice and the worst nightmare of injustice. She carried the torch well from a family of outstanding lawyers. She was a good friend.”

Christin Hakim

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