J. Michael Brown
J. Michael Brown was named Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet by Governor Beshear in 2007. The appointment returns Secretary Brown to a longstanding role in public service.
A former district court judge in Jefferson County, he was law director for the City of Louisville, an assistant commonwealth attorney, and served on the board of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority for 12 years – six as the board’s chair. During that time he guided the authority through major construction and noise mitigation programs and the attraction and expansion of cargo and passenger carriers.
Brown, a native New Yorker, is the son of a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander in New York’s famous, all-black 369th National Guard. He followed in his father’s military footsteps, serving as a paratrooper and infantry officer with the 82nd Airborne Division. He later attended flight school and piloted helicopters until concluding his military career as a captain with the 101st Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky.
Once in Kentucky, Brown pursued another strong interest: the law. He enrolled at the University of Louisville School of Law, where he earned his law degree in 1979. He has practiced in various areas including labor and employment, airport and aviation law, administrative law, entertainment and commercial litigation. He has served as a partner at the Louisville law firms of Stites and Harbison and Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs.
He is a former board member of Republic Bank and several Louisville-area civic groups and non-profit organizations, including Metro United Way and the Louisville chapter of the American Red Cross. He was elected the first African American president of the Louisville Bar Association, and chaired the Kentucky Bar Association’s Task Force on Minorities. He is a current member of KBA’s Ethics Committee, and has served as a member of the University of Louisville Board of Overseers and the board of directors of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters.
Secretary Brown has received numerous awards for his civic contributions, including the Trailblazer Award, presented by the Louisville Bar Association for his commitment to diversity in the legal profession. Similarly, the DuPont Legal Network recognized him by creating the J. Michael Brown Service Award in his honor, which is presented annually to an attorney who demonstrates support for diversity in the law. He was selected as the Brandeis School of Law Alumni Fellow in 2000.
Secretary Brown and his wife, Joan, live in Louisville.
Capt. Brian Carlisle, left, of KSP Post 2, and Secretary Brown take part in a marijuana eradication effort in the Madisonville Post area July 29. Law enforcement officers with Post 2 joined in the effort later that week, in Caldwell County.
(At left) Kentucky State Police Lt. Col. Leslie Gannon, left, congratulated Detective Edward R. Crum after he was named the 2007 Trooper of the Year at the Alumni Club on the University of Louisville campus. (Photo © The Courier-Journal) (5-08-08)
(At right) Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown practiced his firearms skills at the Department of Criminal Justice Training’s indoor firing range, part of his commitment to better understand the training and duties of Kentucky's law enforcement officers. Secretary Brown plans to participate in other training requirements, including the Peace Officers Professional Standards physical training entrance test and high-speed pursuit tutorial. Standing behind him is Sgt. John White. (3-14-08)