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Posted September 11, 2007

Flynn Speaks about Relentless Pursuit, Offers Advice to Future Lawyers

Flynn

Kevin Flynn ’82, a federal prosecutor and author of “Relentless Pursuit,” spoke to Law School students about his work in public service and the story behind his decision to write the nonfiction thriller at an event Sept. 6 in Caplin Pavilion.

In the course of his long career as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., Flynn handled many shocking homicide cases, but his exposure to the 1993 double homicide of Diane Hawkins and her teenage daughter Katrina Harris struck a personal chord. Years after the case concluded, the seasoned prosecutor was inspired to write the real-life story of those brutal murders in “Relentless Pursuit.”

“I wrote the book,” Flynn said, “because I thought that someone else could learn from the story and might be able to learn about themselves and a segment of society that is often unreported.”  

Flynn described the crime scene as horrific. The victims had been stabbed to death and disemboweled. He was able to use blood spatter evidence and fingerprint analysis against the suspected murderer, Hawkins’ boyfriend, Norman Harrell in the trial.

Hawkins and Harris were part of a close-knit family in a Washington, D.C. community that was predominantly lower-income and African-American. Flynn said that the crime brought the victims’ family and community together and offered the survivors an incredible support network. They were “the most inspirational people that I had ever met,” he said. The community showed him how to cope with his own grief as Flynn’s father had just been diagnosed with cancer.

Flynn emphasized that his duty as a federal prosecutor goes beyond the courtroom: “I saw and still see one of my primary functions as a prosecutor as basically explaining the system to people and making them believe in it—making them believe that good things can come out of it—making them believe that they can walk out of an experience like this and have some sort of sense that justice was achieved.”

Due to Flynn’s diligence, Harrell was ultimately convicted of the homicides and sentenced to life without parole. Although this case had an impact on an entire community, he stressed that the media often do not report on these events because they involve minorities and the poor. But, he noted, “Relentless Pursuit” offers “a small window into the world you aren’t used to seeing.”

Flynn began his career as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. in 1987 after deciding that he wanted to serve the common good. He gave insight and advice to the prospective lawyers in the audience: “It took me five years after law school to get around to what I actually wanted to do. The experiences that being a prosecutor have afforded me are something that I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t have the life I have if I hadn’t gone through them. Whether you are a prosecutor, whether you are a defense attorney, whether you go into public service, whether you don’t go into public service… don’t forget the every day people…I learn as much from them as they could ever learn from me—lessons that have nothing to do with the law. That’s the kind of experience that you can have from my job and, I think, in a lot of public service jobs.”

The event was sponsored by the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center.
• Reported by Lindsey Catlett