Homicide cases are difficult to prosecute–usually there are complex legal issues that keep lawyers very busy and preoccupied. At the same time, there are surviving family members who are trying to cope with loss and grief, and they have a lot of questions. Sometimes these family members are so overwhelmed that they are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. Because of their trauma, they can have difficulty remembering things – especially legal concepts that aren’t easy for anyone to understand. Sometimes they need to have things explained and repeated many times. Sometimes they need to give prosecutors photographs of the victim, and even testify about what the victim was like when he or she was alive. Sometimes they have to hear things about the victim that they didn’t know, or don’t want to accept. Prosecutors are trained to deal with legal issues and court procedures, but the emotional needs and concerns that surviving families can face require a different type of expertise.
To address these concerns, the county attorney’s office has victim advocates who work closely with grieving families once a case has been charged. They help the families understand the legal system and they go to court with them. In addition, Survivor Resources is there even before a case gets charged. Survivor Resources helps families with questions and needs outside of the legal system and works closely with victim advocates within the county attorney’s office. As a prosecutor, I appreciate and depend upon both levels of support for surviving families. Knowing that they are in such good hands, I can focus my attention on holding the accused person legally accountable. Thank you Survivor Resources for your important role in many cases!
— Tamara McConkey is a prosecutor for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office