Carolyn Reinardy joined the 1st District public defender’s office in 2014. One year later, eight attorneys nominated her to be an Unsung Legal Hero, calling her “indispensable,” “invaluable,” a “consummate professional,” and “the finest paralegal I have had the pleasure of working with in my 15 year career as an attorney.”
Reinardy might have expected a busy first year but she got a whirlwind: five complex homicide cases in Dakota County. According to 1st District Chief Public Defender Steve Holmgren, these cases “require special attention because our attorneys must do them in addition to their normally assigned caseload.” So a paralegal must “read the boxes upon boxes of paper discovery, and sift through the gigabits of digital evidence,” then sort and organize it for the attorneys.
In one case, State of Minnesota v. Brian Fitch, involving the death of a Mendota Heights police officer, Reinardy gathered press clippings and helped prepare a petition for a change of venue. When the motion was granted, the entire trial team packed up and moved to St. Cloud for the trial. “As a reward for all of her hard work, Carolyn got to spend three weeks away from her family,” coworker Lauri Traub wrote in nominating Reinardy. “She handled the pressure of the trial, including the constant attention from the press, with professionalism and grace.”
Her favorite part of the job? Working with clients and colleagues. She feels her nomination is “a reflection on the whole office. All of the attorneys are so talented, they had faith I could do this and encouraged me.”
The respect is mutual. “Ms. Reinardy has worked above and beyond the call of duty to see that our clients get the quality representation they deserve,” Holmgren wrote in his nomination. “I am very proud of Ms. Reinardy and honored to call her my colleague.”