In fact, the experience led her to change careers. Lawonn decided to become a prosecutor and joined the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office seven years ago. Since then, she argued 10 cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court, 31 at the Minnesota Court of Appeals and represented the county in more than 300 post-conviction cases.
She thrives on appearing before higher court judges. “The rapid-fire exchange with the justices, or with the judges of the Court of Appeals, is probably one of my favorite things,” she said. “It’s a conversation, but they’re pushing you. It is invigorating. It gives you an adrenaline rush.”
The William Mitchell College of Law graduate said she handles a variety of appellate cases. Currently, one involves a man on trial for using a cellphone in a bathroom to attempt to capture a child in stages of undress. Another deals with a tragic double homicide involving juveniles.
Having to prepare for prosecutions involving murdered children and mutilated victims requires a strong stomach and an ability to compartmentalize, she said, citing as an antidote the calming music of early Miles Davis recordings, especially the album “Kind of Blue.”
Outside of the office, she shares her expertise by mentoring law students and young attorneys. Prosecuting difficult and interesting cases and a drive for justice continue to motivate Lawonn.
“Law is never boring because each case is different,” she said. “In my position, you are arguing on behalf of victims and giving a voice to those people at a time when they need it.”
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