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Home / Special Sections / Attorneys of the Year / Attorneys of the Year: Anthony Promvongsa v. Joe Joswiak et al.
Pictured are Teresa Nelson, seated, and Ian Bratlie, standing rear, of ACLU of Minnesota, and Allyson Petersen of Nilan Johnson Lewis.
Pictured are Teresa Nelson, seated, and Ian Bratlie, standing rear, of ACLU of Minnesota, and Allyson Petersen of Nilan Johnson Lewis.

Attorneys of the Year: Anthony Promvongsa v. Joe Joswiak et al.

Jen Cornell of Nilan Johnson Lewis

Jen Cornell of Nilan Johnson Lewis

Attorneys from Minneapolis-based Nilan Johnson Lewis and the ACLU of Minnesota reached a $60,000 settlement with the city of Worthington, Minnesota, and the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force on behalf of client Anthony Promvongsa, whose video-recorded assault by task force officer Joe Joswiak drew national media attention.

From Nilan Johnson Lewis were Jen Cornell, a shareholder, and Allyson Petersen, an associate. The ACLU of Minnesota team included Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project staff attorney Ian Bratlie and legal director Teresa Nelson.

The video of the alleged assault was a critical piece of evidence, said Cornell. In typical officer-civilian interactions, Cornell said, “there’s a credibility imbalance: One person is a uniformed officer, and the other has been in jail.”

Cornell described Promvongsa as an honorable plaintiff who believed he’d been wronged and sought positive changes to policing policy.

“Anthony was an amazing plaintiff who really wanted to make things better for his community,” said Cornell. “It was an honor to represent him.”

Promvongsa’s $60,000 payment was just one aspect of an unusually far-reaching settlement, said Bratlie.

The city of Worthington also agreed to a host of policy changes around officer training and use of force, including an end to on-scene use-of-force approval by supervisors, a new requirement that patrol officers submit use-of-force reports up the chain of command within five days of an incident, and disciplinary action for officers who file deceptive or tardy use-of-force reports. Officers must also complete annual use-of-force and de-escalation training.

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