Jackson County prosecutor does more than just put criminals away - KCTV5

Jackson County prosecutor does more than just put criminals away

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

She is a familiar face on Kansas City television. For Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, putting criminals away is only part of her day job.

Baker grew up on a farm in central Missouri. That's where she said she learned the toughness it takes to fight crime in a place like Kansas City.

"What I learned from that life was how to work hard and what work ethic really meant. Most people around me had an extremely tough work ethic," she recalled.

That work ethic followed her through school, all the way to a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1998. As a mother of three, she balances home and work life with help from her high school sweetheart. Baker met her husband while working at a Wendy's in Jefferson City, MO. The couple has managed how to have a family and balance demanding careers at the same time.

"I have an incredible husband that does a ton of that part of our kids' lives so that I could have this job," she said.

Baker has always had a passion for children and it was that love that motivated her to become a prosecutor.

"It's a great job. I love it. I love being able to represent children who have been injured, mostly to give them a voice because they don't have one," Baker said.

At times, that means asking the smallest of voices to answer the toughest of questions.

"We have a case right now where a 3-year-old told us about his mother's murder and actually led us to her body. So how hard am I going to work on that case? Whatever it takes," she said.

Baker is only the second woman to hold the job of prosecutor in Jackson County. But male or female, she says the job of a lawyer is the same.

"As a lawyer, I'm not going to let somebody else set the stage for me. I'm not going to let somebody else tell me how we are going to behave and how we are going to work together. I am going to tell them how we're going to work together. If someone would have an issue with me because of my gender, we're going to take care of that pretty quick," she said.

Baker has been recognized numerous times for work as an advocate for crime victims. She has served a court-appointed special advocate representative and has also worked for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.

She credits her team with her success and said, as prosecutors, they owe it to the public to treat each case as the highest priority.

"We have the highest of ethical responsibilities and so I take that very, very seriously and I should. The public should know that the prosecutors who show up to this job every day, work hard for them and they're also working fairly for them. That the convictions we receive, are received with all of that duty in the forefront of our minds. It's not enough to get convictions, but we get them ethically," she said.

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