Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Karofsky helps prosecutors achieve justice in domestic violence, sexual assault cases

Jill J. Karofsky helps prosecutors with cases involving domestic violence and sexual assault as the state's first violence against women resource prosecutor. She started the position with the Wisconsin Department of Justice in 2010.

Jill Karofsky

After graduating from La Follette in 1992 with a dual degree in law and public policy and administration, Karofsky served as an assistant and deputy district attorney for the Dane County District Attorney's Office in Madison until 2001.

In that position, she handled misdemeanor and felony cases and took a special interest in prosecuting crimes committed against women and children. "Domestic violence cases demand significant time, energy and attention if justice is to be achieved for victims, their children, defendants and our communities," she says. "Sexual assault and domestic violence cases are challenging because of the underlying dynamics involved."

For the Department of Justice, Karofsky provides training, education and technical assistance to district attorneys around Wisconsin. "High turnover in district attorney's offices and understaffing makes this challenging job even more difficult," she says. "I am hoping to help the overworked DAs tackle these difficult cases."

Karofsky joined the National Conference of Bar Examiners as education director from 2001-04, then became director of human resources and counsel. She reviewed, maintained and administered contracts and policies for human resources and employee benefits. She also assisted with legal affairs.

Karofsky is married to Jason Knutson, an attorney at the Axley law firm. "We have two young, active (and beautiful) children," she says.

In her spare time, Karofsky runs marathons and competes in triathlons. She took up the latter in 2004 after completing her 20th marathon and suffering some tendinitis in a knee. She finished her first Ironman triathlon in Madison in 2007.

She finds that many attorneys and endurance athletes share the 'play hard, work hard' mentality.

Karofsky has an extensive background in teaching and training, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School since 2004. She teaches Trial Advocacy and Victims in the Legal System, the latter a class she developed and created.

During her tenure in the district attorney's office, Karofsky trained prosecutors, municipal and circuit court judges, law enforcement personnel, and probation and parole agents in the prosecution of cases involving domestic violence, drunk driving and shaken babies. She used that experience at the National Conference of Bar Examiners by developing and administering its educational programming, including national seminars for bar administrators, bar examiners and state Supreme Court justices on issues in bar admissions.

"Training for attorneys is important because the law is dynamic," Karofsky says. "I enjoy teaching and training because it gives me a chance to teach others the lessons I have learned in hopes that they will avoid some of the mistakes I have made and improve upon the things I have done right."