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Lisa Howell:
She does it for the victims

By Staff
PROFESSIONAL WOMAN  Assistant District Attorney Lisa Howell has a job she loves. Howell, who has worked for District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell for eight years, tries cases in Lauderdale, Clarke, Kemper and Wayne counties. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
May 26, 2002
Her office is on the third floor of the Lauderdale County Court House. Her visitors are usually family members of crime victims or officers from local law enforcement agencies.
The room is covered in family photos, her college and law school degrees and, surprisingly, photos of victims whose cases she tried.
The photos are daily reminders to Assistant District Attorney Lisa Howell of why her job means so much.
The heart of a lawyer
So, Howell did the smart thing. While in college at the University of Southern Mississippi she got a minor in paralegal work. After graduation, Howell worked as a paralegal for 200 lawyers in a New Orleans law firm.
Howell's mother knew how much she wanted to go to law school and made her a deal.
She earned a law degree in 1991 from Mississippi College.
Her career begins
Howell worked for the law firm of Jordan and Jones in Meridian, handling a lot of domestic litigation divorces and child custody cases.
She left the firm to become a public defender for Lauderdale County Youth Court, and worked with Judge Frank Coleman.
The job required her to deal a lot with parents.
Switching sides
Howell said she wanted to come home to Meridian after graduating from law school and work for the district attorney's office, but there were no positions available.
Eight years ago, she finally got her chance.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Howell handles 300 to 400 cases a year. She recently helped prosecute a murder case in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, against defendant Peggy Lynn Sloan Starns.
Becoming a prosecutor has a down side. Some of the children she tried to help as a public defender didn't make the turnaround, and she sees them now, indicted for felonies as adults.
A changing world
Howell is one of four assistant district attorneys who work under District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell in the 10th Circuit Court District. They cover Clarke, Lauderdale, Kemper and Wayne counties.
For her first seven years as a assistant district attorney, Howell was the only woman attorney in the office. But that changed about a year ago when Assistant District Attorney Veldore Young Heidelberg was hired.
Howell said she has found comfort in her friendship with Heidelberg.
Being the only female didn't scare Howell.
Howell's longtime friend Ann Weddington, marketing director at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, said Howell is a success at her job because "she is sensitive enough to be able to empathize and sympathize with the families she has to deal with."
Friends since the 10th grade, Weddington has a nickname for Howell.
Her family life
Married for nine years, Howell and her husband, John, currently the public defender in the youth court, have one child, 5-year-old Hunter. They are active members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Howell said the long hours she works are hard on her family.
There are two things that keep her at her job.
The other reason: "I do this job, because I want Hunter to be proud of me."

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