Palumbo earns attorney of the year award

Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo is the recipient of an honor from the Minnesota Lawyer newspaper.

He has been chosen as one of the recipients of Minnesota Lawyer’s attorney of the year awards, and will be recognized at an awards program Feb. 20 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.

Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo

According to Minnesota Lawyer, attorneys were selected for the honor based on their leadership, involvement in major cases or other newsworthy events, excellence in corporate or transactional services and public service.

Nominations were submitted by judges, bar groups, clients and fellow attorneys, while honorees came from diverse practice groups, such as criminal law, litigation, public service, intellectual property and in-house legal departments, the newspaper states in a press release.

According to Palumbo, he is honored to receive the award but considers it to be an office award, rather than an attorney of the year award.

“We have lots of good people in this office who have been involved in and supported the programs we have started in the past three years like the veterans court and elder abuse projects,” Palumbo said.

Palumbo, who is in his first term as Anoka County Attorney, having been elected in 2010 after service as an assistant county attorney from 1979-2010, was nominated by John Kingrey, executive director of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association.

“He has distinguished himself in the past year through extraordinary leadership, commitment to justice and collectively addressing a problem facing communities in Minnesota, as well as service to the legal community,” Kingrey wrote in his nomination.

“His accomplishments continue a long-standing, consistent record of impressive professional achievement and public service.”

According to Kingrey, what really rose to the top of Palumbo’s accomplishments was his elder abuse initiative.

“Tony Palumbo took a leadership role in addressing not only the prosecutor’s role in addressing elder abuse and financial exploitation, but in creating a statewide community awareness campaign around these issues,” Kingrey wrote.

SAFE: Stop Abuse and Financial Exploitation is a collaboration of people and organizations in law enforcement, adult protection, medical care, senior housing, the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, social service and community agencies.

According to Kingrey, the group has developed a toolkit for use throughout the state to spot and reduce elder abuse; it includes a 26-minute documentary video, “Elder Victims: Abused, Exploited, Alone,” created in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television, plus a new website that lists resources, presentations and fact sheets about elder abuse.

“Tony’s leadership and direct involvement ensured this project happened,” Kingrey wrote in his nomination. “His involvement continues today.”

Palumbo is currently working with other stakeholders to join forces with the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project to create the Minnesota Elder Abuse Justice Institute, he wrote.

The nomination also includes Palumbo’s involvement in a new $400,000 federal grant that the Anoka County Attorney’s Office received to bring together law enforcement, prosecutors, probation and community services to intervene early and quickly in domestic violence incidents.

Training is provided for police officers to help identify the victims who are most at risk for further harm, or death, and the focus is on getting the victim and the abuser connected to appropriate help in an effort to stop the cycle of abuse as well as expediting the case through the court system.

“Tony’s leadership on and commitment to leadership on this project has helped ensure its success,” Kingrey wrote in the nomination.

Kingrey’s nomination also details Palumbo’s work as chairperson of the Anoka County Joint Law Enforcement Council to create one integrated public safety data system for all law enforcement, fire, central communications and jail systems in the county.

According to Kingrey, Palumbo put in place a veterans court in the county in 2012 to better address the needs of veterans involved in the criminal justice system, providing a collaborative approach to deal with the causes of a veteran’s crime, most often mental health or chemical dependency issues.

In addition, Kingrey writes that the county attorney’s office in the fall of 2013, launched an “e-discovery” program, through which discovery documents are sent in an encrypted and secure manner to defense attorneys, guardians ad litem and others in adult criminal, juvenile delinquency and CHIPS (children in need of protection) cases.

“This electronic method decreases the dependency on paper and makes his office more effective and efficient as it moves forward in the digital age,” he wrote.

Born in St. Paul, Palumbo graduated from Brady High School, received his bachelor of arts degree from the College of St. Thomas and earned his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 1979.

His community involvement includes serving as past president of the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation Board, Fogerty Ice Arena Board of Directors, Anoka Technical College Advisory Committee member, Lakeshore Theater and Landmark Center actor, former Northeast YMCA Board member, former Minnesota High School Mock Trial program coach and judge and donor of meals for fund-raising events in the county.

The Minnesota Lawyer is an independent newspaper dedicated to providing court opinions, verdicts, settlements, appellate decisions and legal news to enhance the practice of law in the state, according to its website.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]