City prosecutor Karen Mara earns award of excellence

The Minnesota State Bar Association chose attorney Karen Mara for its 2015 Julius E. Gernes Prosecutor Award of Excellence. The award recognizes the work and dedication of an outstanding public attorney who serves in Minnesota as a County or City attorney or as a criminal prosecutor at the federal, state or local level.

Mara has served as an attorney in the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office for 29 years and as a prosecutor for 26 of those years. Mara is known nationally as a leading expert and educator among prosecutors in the area of driving while under the influence of drugs.

For many years, Mara has also been active in drafting and advocating for new legislation with the goal of strengthening drugged driving, careless driving and prostitution laws. As part of her efforts, she has testified at the Legislature.

Notable achievements

Mara’s achievements have affected how Minnesota handles drugged drivers. In the course of her career, she has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers, drug recognition officers and attorneys in more than 50 trainings and continuing legal education courses in Minnesota and across the country. She has also helped shape Minnesota’s Drug Recognition Expert program and prosecuted hundreds of cases of driving while impaired by controlled substances.

In 1994, Mara argued the landmark DWI case State of Minnesota vs. Larry Klawitter before the Minnesota Supreme Court. This important decision paved the way for drug recognition officers to offer opinion testimony regarding suspected drug-impaired drivers. This had a significant impact on the ability of prosecutors to charge and prosecute cases of driving while under the influence of controlled substances.

Published May 5, 2015

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