Assistant County Attorney Karl Price
Karl Price

Controversial local prosecutor Karl Price was fired on Tuesday by Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, following a monthlong investigation into his professional behavior in response to a racially inflammatory letter he sent to opposing counsel in his private practice.

According to O’Connell’s termination letter, Price was offered the chance to keep his job if he took full responsibility for unprofessional behavior and gave an unconditional apology. However, O’Connell wrote that Price’s reply fell short of that mark, adding: “I no longer have confidence in your ability to represent me as an Assistant Jefferson County Attorney.”

Price was first ordered by O’Connell to take sensitivity training in early June, following the release of a letter in which he called an Asian-American family “greedy foreigners” and a subsequent interview with Insider Louisville in which he said members of the same family could be “illegal aliens” due to their “broken English.” After The Courier-Journal reported that he made additional inappropriate comments in court as a prosecutor, O’Connell suspended Price without pay, pending an investigation.

That investigation, which was completed July 10, found five more examples of inappropriate statements from Price in court. O’Connell’s office presented those findings to Price and told him he must submit a written statement taking full responsibility for his comments and apologize in order to keep his job.

Price responded with a letter on July 17 that included a conditional apology. But the former prosecutor was also defensive, suggesting O’Connell’s office was treating him unfairly. In it, Price concluded: “if there is more you want, I am prepared to accept your threat of termination if that is the wishes [sic] of the office.”

In his reply Tuesday, O’Connell wrote that Price’s refusal to make a full apology had cost him his job.

“Despite repeated requests to do so, you never acknowledge that your conduct was unprofessional and inappropriate,” wrote O’Connell. “In addition, your proffered ‘apology’ — ‘if you offended anyone’ — is not an apology at all. It is a hollow gesture and certainly not an unconditional apology.”

The letters between the County Attorney’s Office and Price, concluding with the termination letter, are available to read below:

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]