Community mourns the loss of former deputy prosecutor described as ‘best criminal trial attorney’

COLUMBUS, Ind. — One of the most respected lawyers in the Columbus area has lost her battle with cancer.

Retired Bartholomew County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen M. “Kathy” Burns died Monday at the age of 66.

“She was the best criminal trial attorney that I have ever even witnessed at work in the courtroom,” said Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash in a written statement. “She was both my employee (for 18 years) and my mentor at the same time until she retired in the summer of 2020 during a COVID wave. And she was my friend. I miss her dearly.”

When Burns retired, Senior Judge Stephen Heimann expressed similar sentiment about Burns, calling her “the best overall trial lawyer I’ve ever had in my courtroom.”

Circuit Court Judge Kelly Benjamin once described Burns as a giant in the local judicial system “who protected and defended the safety of the community without most people knowing it.”

Former two-term sheriff and current county council member Mark Gorbett said while Burns was passionate about her job, she “had a heart of gold.”

“Kathy taught me more about compassion for victims, and to always look at the big picture of how many lives a criminal case touches,” Gorbett said.

For the complete story, see Wednesday’s Republic.