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WJA 2022: Kristen Tuohy

Kristen TuohyChristian County Prosecutor’s Office

When she’s not prepping for trial, you can often find University of Missouri School of Law graduate Kristen Tuohy on her horse farm taking care of the animals she and her husband raise. She’s an internationally recognized amateur reining horse competitor. Reining is a judged event where the rider demonstrates the athletic ability of a ranch-type horse through a series of compulsory movements. The sport requires a tremendous amount of practice. “I need to be as prepared for those events as if I was preparing to go to trial,” said Tuohy.

For the past ten years, Tuohy has served as the First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Christian County, Missouri. Throughout much of her tenure, Tuohy has handled sex crimes and child abuse cases. Now she has added drug-related cases. Prior to her prosecutorial career, Tuohy worked as a public defender. Basically, she has seen it all which has its own challenges. “There is a lot of vicarious traumas that prosecutors and defense attorneys experience,” she explained. “I tend to separate out work life from my personal life.”

Dealing with difficult cases requires an enormous amount of preparation. Tuohy gets ready for trials by knowing every angle of her case, memorizing facts, meeting with folks well ahead of time and constantly thinking about what the defense might present. “I spend a lot of time in jury selection so I can identify the jurors that may not be fair and impartial and make sure they are stricken from the case,” she said.

Before Tuohy could become an effective prosecutor, she had to overcome a fear of public speaking. “It’s almost odd that I’ve ended up in this role where I try cases in from of a jury in order to advocate on behalf of the state and the victims” she added.

Improving outcomes for children, especially those who are at risk for abuse and neglect, has been a goal for their entire team, including local law enforcement partners and employees of the children’s division. They have been working towards implementing what they call the child abuse and sex crimes task force. “At this point it has turned into a ‘best practices manual’ for how we envision having cases investigated swiftly to get children out of the situation they are in,” she said. “Fast response times come from people who are experienced in identifying warning signs so we can protect those children.”

With her stellar career that started as a public defender and transitioned into the prosecutor’s office, Tuohy now has her sights set on the next challenge. She filed to run for Christian County Prosecutor. She’s unopposed but that doesn’t mean she won’t be prepping, analyzing and planning for her election. When asked if elected what she planned to do, Tuohy answered, “I am going to strive for a consistent transition and justice for victims. We have a back log from COVID, we have a lot of cases pending,” she said, “Any further delay is just not fair.”

Women's Justice Awards 2022