A man in a black suit walks to the bench and hands the judge Exhibits 41K and H, over objection from opposing counsel. He returns calmly to his desk as the images of a murdered young woman under a truck are projected on a screen for the jury to see.
Kevin Lawlor, adjunct professor of Legal Studies, is also a State’s Attorney for the district of West Haven, Milford, Orange and Naugatuck Valley. “In that capacity I supervise nine other attorneys and support staff. We prosecute all state criminal offenses that occur in this jurisdiction,” he says.
He sits forward a little in his oversized leather chair, straightening a black tie.
A State’s Attorney is, in addition to being a prosecutor, the chief law enforcement officer of the jurisdiction. Lawlor’s jurisdiction comprises approximately 250,000 residents.
“We prosecute the serious felony charges,” says Lawlor, “Murder, rape, larceny, basically anything you can go to jail more than 10 years for.”
What is the most difficult part of being a State’s Attorney? Lawlor’s blue eyes look intent for a moment. “I think there’s a lot-just the responsibility. Do we have enough evidence to bring a conviction when the victim’s family is looking to us for closure?” he says. He wonders if the decisions he makes are the right ones, and who they affect.
Though his job can sometimes be stressful, Lawlor is quick to highlight its better points. “Oh, God, I think everything about the job is rewarding-I know it sounds so cliché,” he says beaming. “We have the power to do the right things to the right people for the right reasons.”
One reason he choose the position of prosecutor was to help the people of Connecticut. It is his job to represent the state and the people of the state and that ,he feels, is wonderful.
In his State’s Attorney’s office there are college and graduate school memorabilia. His diplomas hang on the wall and are lit by a University of Connecticut lamp-his undergraduate school. Next to it, is the law degree he earned from the Quinnipiac School of Law.
“My job gives me a unique perspective in individual facets of criminal law. I like to make it hands-on in the class,” he says. Lawlor says he uses his job to teach others. “I like to show that what they learn has real-life implications. Everyone exposes themselves to the criminal justice system. I like to show them what it can and can’t do because I think a lot of people get false impressions from criminal justice shows.”
Junior Criminal Justice major Gina Castrorao agrees. “Because he is a prosecutor, what he says is not only real, but entertaining.”
Lawlor’s two jobs often meet. Guest speakers from the court house visit the classroom, and his students visit the court house and the Meriden Forensics Laboratory.
For anyone interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, Lawlor has this advice: “I really think being a prosecutor is the best job you can have as an attorney.” Why? “I think the best part of the job is to represent the victims of crime and hopefully bring about something positive from something that’s normally horrific,” he says.