Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Toni Beitz will be presented Thursday with a statewide professional achievement award for her groundbreaking 40-year career in both the criminal and civil divisions of the county attorney’s office.

For the past 28 years, Beitz has worked in the civil division, defending and advising county government and employees in litigation, according to the nomination letter submitted to the Minnesota County Attorneys Association (MCAA) by her colleagues, including Assistant County Attorney Jim Keeler.

At the outset of her career, Beitz worked for 12 years as a criminal prosecutor. In 1980, she became one of the first senior female attorneys in the office. In 1987, she switched permanently to the civil division. For four years, she ­oversaw about 30 attorneys in the division.

In the nomination letter, Keeler cited as accomplishments several cases with statewide impact that Beitz successfully argued to state and federal appellate courts. One involved defending a prosecutor against an inmate who claimed to have been beaten in prison because of the prosecutor’s truthful statements.

Outside the courtroom, Beitz also has had an impact, Keeler wrote. As a member of the MCAA’s sheriff’s civil advisory panel, she took the lead on complex issues including gun laws and expungements.

Beitz has been a mentor to many law clerks and new attorneys in the office.

“She has an incredible ability to treat young attorneys as peers, while helping them to develop their skills and knowledge,” the nomination said.

At 70, Beitz is on phased retirement, working 20 hours a week.


Twitter: @rochelleolson