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Attorneys Sharon Freiling and Karissa Richardson Receive First Judicial District Amicus Curiae Award

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013

The First Judicial District presented its third annual Amicus Curiae Award to attorneys Sharon Freiling and Karissa Richardson on June 13, 2013. The Amicus Curiae Award, meaning Friend of the Court, is an annual recognition of attorneys and others who have provided exceptional service, leadership, or other contributions to assist the courts in the First Judicial District discharge their constitutional responsibility for the administration of justice.

Sharon Freiling practices law in South St. Paul and is a part-time public defender in Dakota County.  Since 2008, she has been volunteering as the attorney for the participants in the Dakota County Juvenile Drug Court program. This requires her to attend staffing meetings and court sessions each month to ensure that the juveniles and their parents have experienced representation as they progress through the program’s phases toward graduation. Additional work is involved in meeting with and counseling juveniles and their parents outside of court, answering their questions and protecting their rights. “Her dedicated service helps drug court participants recover from substance abuse, resist criminal conduct, and restore relationships with family members.  The juvenile drug court would not be able to function without her dedicated representation of these participants,” said First Judicial District Chief Judge Edward Lynch.

Karissa Richardson, as a staff attorney at Legal Assistance of Dakota County, expanded the volunteer attorney program and began the work that resulted in the formation of the Family Court Self-Help Center. She has continued to provide dedicated and extensive service to low income litigants as a volunteer with Legal Assistance of Dakota County generously giving her time and expertise to provide legal representation and advice to these disadvantaged litigants.  She also volunteers at the Dakota County Family Court Self-Help Center and at the Lewis House Family Law Clinic, ensuring that victims of domestic abuse have advice provided by a knowledgeable attorney. Katie Trotzky, Executive Director of Legal Assistance of Dakota County, stated, “Ms. Richardson’s dedication to pro bono work represents the highest ideals of the legal profession; she truly takes to heart the concept of 'equal access to justice.' She is an asset to our legal community and richly deserves recognition.”

“The contributions of Sharon Freiling and Karissa Richardson assist the First Judicial District in providing prompt, quality service to the people of our communities and demonstrates once again how important volunteer attorneys are to the overall administration of justice,” said Chief Judge Lynch.

Past recipients of the Amicus Curiae Awards are Liz Reppe; Dana McKenzie; Merlyn Meinerts; Mary Freyberg, Scott County Law Librarian; and the law firm of Lindquist & Vennum.