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. 

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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