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Thursday, November 29, 2012  RssIcon

You always try to do the right thing

Molly Hicken and David Brown

Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken receives her award from Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown

Assistant Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken and defense attorney John C. Lillie, III described, often fighting tears, how they helped save Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell’s life when he was shot in Grand Marais.

Hicken and Lillie, along with six others, received the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Community Leadership Award at a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.

Deputy Hennepin County Attorney David Brown introduced Hicken and Lillie by recounting how on Dec. 15, after a guilty verdict in a sex offense, the defendant went outside and retrieved a gun, came back inside the courthouse and started shooting. A witness in the case was shot and then the defendant walked into Scannell’s office and shot the county attorney in the leg and the chest.

Scannell stumbled into Hicken’s office, and when the gunman followed moments later, Hicken wrestled with him, trying to get the gun. She was soon joined by Bailiff Gary Radloff and they successfully subdued him.

“I didn’t want to see Tim Scannell die before me,” Hicken said, explaining her actions. “I wanted to be able to go home and hug my husband again. And I wanted Gary Radloff to be able to see his baby grandchild again.”

David Brown and John Lillie

David Brown presents John Lillie with his award

Hicken said the defendant had used a hacksaw on the bullets so they would do even more damage to the human body. And, he had enough bullets for everyone in the county attorney’s office, she said.

Brown said Lillie, who lives in Stillwater but was the gunman’s defense counsel, came upon the badly wounded Scannell, who had crawled to the hallway. Lillie helped Scannell sit up so the blood would not pool in his lungs and used a belt as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding in his leg. 

“You don’t feel deserving,” Lillie said, holding up the award. “You always try to do the right thing, you’re taught to do the right thing, you’re raised to do the right thing and I feel good that I did.”

We have to transform the landscape

Suzanne Koepplinger, who received the award for her work as executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis, also gave the keynote speech.

Suzanne Koepplinger

Suzanne Koepplinger delivers the keynote address

She noted that the challenges facing the American Indian community are “continuing and they are daunting.” American Indian women, in particular, face violence and especially sexual violence. They also face a high rate of sexual exploitation at a young age.

In 2011, Koepplinger and her organization worked with other groups to pass the Safe Harbor Act, which calls for girls under 16 arrested for prostitution not to be designated as delinquent and 16 and 17-year-old girls to receive diversion from the juvenile justice system with the hope of getting their lives turned around without having a record.

Now, Koepplinger is advocating for more money for housing and other resources for the victims of sexual exploitation. Although she acknowledges it won’t be cheap, every dollar spent on the No wrong door for service resources model saves the state $34, according to a study her organization commissioned. 

“We have to transform the landscape that says, ‘sexual violence is just part of the deal,’ ’’ she said. “I hear children say, ‘yeah, my cousin was gang-raped, but that’s just the way it is.’ We have to be bold and take risks.”

Pioneering advocate for children

Kathe Flynn was honored for 32 years as a pioneering advocate for victims and witnesses, especially children, in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. She was first hired under a McKnight Foundation grant to help the county attorney’s office work with children who had been victims of crimes or witnessed crimes. At the time, no one was focusing specifically on the needs of these children.

She had no idea that she would still be doing this work three decades later and that it would grow from two people to a full, separate division in the county attorney’s office helping victims and witnesses navigate the criminal justice system.

“Many of those were kids with the worst traumas, the worst betrayals and yet they faced them in court,” Flynn said. “They enriched my life.”

Additional honorees

Also honored were Christopher “Kit” Hoskin and Shyia Bader of Well Fargo Bank for providing key documents and photographs of suspects in a major methamphetamine ring making deposits at the bank. The work has led to convictions of more than a dozen people, including the ringleader.

Richard Johnson and Mike Freeman

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Hennepin County Administrator Richard Johnson

Hennepin County Administrator Richard Johnson was honored for his seven years in that position and his work on forming the Hennepin County Justice Integration Program, which has led to cutting paperwork and improving communications between agencies in the criminal justice system. He also supported many other public safety initiatives including juvenile out of home placement initiative, the new 911 communication building and youth initiatives. Johnson is retiring at the end of the year.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan, who retired in early November, was honored for his police career and, in particular, his work in hiring and promoting women and minorities, integrating new technologies, and bringing back the juvenile unit, which helped cut juvenile crime by 60 percent.

Updated with video

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