Mike Kavanagh and Family

Who is Michael Kavanagh?

Mike is a proud and devoted family man. He and Jennifer, his wife of 12 years, have dedicated their lives to raising their two beautiful daughters, Regan and Aislin. They live in West Saugerties and spend most of their free time as soccer, softball, basketball, dance and gymnastics parents, either coaching or cheering on their girls.

Mike’s family moved to Woodstock in 1975 where he spent his childhood. He graduated from Onteora High School and went to Fordham University where he received a BS in Psychology. He then attended Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree.

Mike has been a professional prosecutor for over 18 years, working in both the Dutchess County and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Offices. He is currently the Chief Assistant District Attorney, where he has worked directly under DA Holley Carnright for the last 4 years. He has also spent over 7 years as an accomplished criminal defense attorney, giving him a well-rounded and balanced perspective of our criminal justice system.

Prosecution Experience

During his career as a prosecutor, Mike has successfully and consistently prosecuted the most serious offenders. From high-profile murder trials to rape, arson, bank robbery, gang violence, domestic violence and more, Mike has time and again fought for the victims of these heinous crimes.

Mike is the only candidate in this race who has ever prosecuted a criminal case.

Experienced Defense Attorney

In addition to being a highly experienced prosecutor, Mike spent over 7 years as an accomplished criminal defense attorney. He represented criminal defendants charged with serious crimes while practicing law in Austin, Texas, and as a member of the Kingston law firm Mainetti, Mainetti & O’Connor. It is this experience that makes him a well-rounded attorney who is able to see a case from all angles. He has stood in court and fought for the rights of the accused as well as for the victims of crime.

Other Experience

In addition to being an accomplished and highly respected trial attorney, Mike holds several other, valuable, leadership positions.

Mike serves as a member of the Ulster County Older Persons Empowerment Executive Committee (formerly Elder Abuse Prevention Counsel) where he serves as a panelist at conferences designed to educate our seniors about crimes that target them, as well as to provide information about programs designed to keep them safe, secure and healthy.

Mike is also the Supervisor of the District Attorney’s Animal Abuse Bureau where he works closely with the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and local law enforcement agencies to prosecute animal abusers. Michael, personally, prosecuted one of Ulster County’s most tragic animal abuse cases where a young girl’s pet dog was intentionally shot by a hunter, and he was instrumental in creating the Ulster County Animal Abuse Registry which is maintained by the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office.

He has served as chief prosecutor to the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team (URGENT) Task Force. In that capacity, he prosecuted dozens of gang members as part of Operation Clean Sweep, and he has a long history of holding profit-seeking drug dealers accountable for pedaling poison in our community.

Mike has also shared his legal expertise as a lecturer, presenting to both the Ulster County and Dutchess County magistrates, as well as law enforcement personnel. He has also provided Continuing Legal Education to attorneys about the legal ramifications of opioid addiction.

While in private practice, Mike served as counsel to the Ulster County Legislature for 2 years. He was also a member of the Ulster County Judicial Review Committee which is tasked with evaluating the qualifications of candidates for judicial office. He has participated in Mock Trial by judging the local high school competitions and has helped coach participants.

Finally Mike is a Courtroom Consultant to the USA Network crime dramas, The Sinner and The Sinner II. In this capacity, he has worked with movie stars Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman, and assisted the writers with creating an authentic script.

Position on the Opioid Crisis

One of Mike’s primary goals as the next District Attorney will be to fight the Opioid Crisis that has inflicted so much pain and devastation on our community.

Mike currently serves our community as a member of the Ulster County Inter-Agency Drug Task Force, which is comprised of a group of dedicated high school Superintendents, addiction recovery specialists, and law enforcement leaders. In this capacity, Mike participates in powerful and moving presentations in our high schools to educate students and parents about the dangers of opioids, to de-stigmatize addiction, and offer hope and help to those affected by addiction.

He is also a member of the Ulster County Opioid Task Force which gathers experts from around the County who are dedicated to finding solutions to this epidemic by focusing on strategies to reduce both the supply and demand of opioids in our county.

Mike is also a strong advocate of Alternatives to Incarceration, such as Drug Court, Opioid Court and Diversion Court. These programs enable addicts who have engaged in non-violent criminal behavior to earn a second chance following the completion of a supervised treatment and rehabilitation.

Position on Domestic Violence/Child Abuse

As Ulster County’s Chief Assistant District Attorney, Mike supervises a team of experienced prosecutors who have taken an aggressive approach in holding domestic abusers accountable. In 2017, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office was recognized by the state for their aggressive prosecution of domestic abusers and selected to be the first office in New York to launch the pilot program called Intimate Partner Violence Intervention (IPVI), which utilizes a community-based preventative approach to combat domestic violence.

Additionally, Mike will continue to vigorously prosecute those who victimize our children. Child abuse, either physical or sexual, is an intolerable crime and the abusers must be held accountable. That is why the District Attorney’s Office developed the Family and Child Advocacy Center (FCAC). It is a multiagency cooperative effort that utilizes a multidisciplinary team approach in the investigation, assessment, prosecution, victim advocacy and medical/mental health treatment involving child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers.