Kreinbrink takes the reigns as prosecutor.

December 23, 2020

Kreinbrink takes the reigns as prosecutor.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

LUDINGTON — Mason County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink takes over as prosecutor, replacing Paul Spaniola who is retiring at the end of this year. 

Kreinbrink is a 2009 graduate of Ludington High School. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan with a major in anthropology, graduating with honors. She then received her law degree from Michigan State University College of Law in 2016, passing the bar that year as well. 

Kreinbrink, 29, resides in Ludington. She has been with the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office since 2019 and had worked for the Manistee County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office prior to that.

“Going to college, I didn’t always know that I wanted to be an attorney,” she recalled. “That was a decision I made once I got to college, but I always enjoyed reading, researching and writing.

“When I went to college at the University of Michigan, I really wanted to be an archeologist. I wanted to be Indiana Jones. 

“Then, I did a couple a of internships at Western Land Services which really drew me into the legal realm. I did a lot of reviewing of contracts and leases, so then I considered law, but it was environmental law.

“After I got admitted to law school, I wanted to see what the day-to-day life of a lawyer was like, so I shadowed Paul (Spaniola), and that’s really how I got drawn into prosecution.

Kreinbrink said “helping people” has been a rewarding aspect of working as a prosecutor.

The new prosecutor said her first goal once in office is to get the new assistant prosecutors — replacing herself and John Middlebrook who was elected 79th District Court judge to replace retiring Peter Wadel  — “up and running.” 

“A bigger goal and something I’ve been working on throughout the election process, following the election and throughout my entire career has been improving communication with law enforcement — really working to build a better relationship with our detectives, deputies, officers, sergeants and troopers. That communication is so critical — it helps build stronger cases.”

She plans to continue the tradition established by her predecessor of a monthly meeting with law enforcement, but plans to increase the accessibility of prosecutors to keep law enforcement updated on cases and getting officers’ input.

The biggest challenge she faces is the backlog of cases created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to run any sort of jury trials. Unfortunately, those have been put on hold. Getting those cases back on track is really important.”

The main concern has been potential jurors’ fear of being exposed to the virus, she said.

Working in the Manistee County Prosecutor’s Office gave Kreinbrink exposure to a wide variety of cases, she said, because she worked in all of the courts — probate, district and circuit. “I handled DNR poaching cases that went to jury trials to child abuse cases. I was fortunate to start my career handling a ton of different things. Moving onto Mason County, I still have that wide variety.

“Having the ability to practice in any court really has set me up to what I believe will be a successful career as the elected prosecuting attorney,” she said. “Even as a law student, I was doing jury trials, so I don’t have a fear of going into court. I recognize fully there is a lot to learn, because being a lawyer you’re learning new things every day. I feel that I have the breadth of experience even in my relatively short career that I bring to the position.”

Kreinbrink is one of the youngest prosecutors in Michigan and could be the youngest female prosecutor.

“I’m really excited to be serving and working for the community I grew up in. I’ve taken the feedback from throughout the election — the comments people have made — to heart. I recognize there are a lot of changes to be made, and I’m excited to fill my office from the ground up and serve the community that I live in.

“At end of the day, being a prosecutor is more than being tough on crime. You’re trying to do justice for everyone in the courtroom — justice for the victim but also justice for the defendant. By that I mean, respecting their constitutional rights and making sure they have fair trial.

“Justice is a big term. For some people it means a prison term, and for other victims, it’s some type of emotional closure.

“You have to evaluate being able to prove your case. It’s different than being afraid to push that case. For the cases you can prove that are strong cases, you have to have the courage to pursue justice. You have to have that courage and determination to see that case through until the end. Having that courage to go into court and to fight for your victims and to fight for your law enforcement officers, that’s what being tough on crime is for me.

“I’m very happy for Paul as he moves into his retirement. I’m thankful for the experience he’s given me as a prosecutor and for bringing me back to Mason County.”

In addition to taking on the new job, Kreinbrink recently experienced another major life change. She and her fiancee, Evan Peterson, tied the knot in the circuit courtroom earlier this month. “I got married where I work,” she said. “It was a very nice, but low-key ceremony.”

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