Justice Laurie McKinnon is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law and began practicing law in 1987, handling a wide variety of civil and criminal litigation. She spent ten years as a prosecutor in the Glacier and Teton County Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in Maryland. From 2006 to 2012 she served as District Judge of the Ninth Judicial District Court.
In 2010, Justice McKinnon was awarded Judge of the Year by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Montana for her work in cases involving abused and neglected children. In 2011, she wrote and received a $350,000 federal grant from the Department of Justice for implementation of a drug treatment court within her jurisdiction.
Justice McKinnon serves on the District Court Performance Measurement Advisory Committee to the Montana Supreme Court, the Judicial Education Committee, the Justice Initiatives Committee, and is a member of the District Drug Court Judges. She is pursuing her Doctorate in Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada and the National Judicial College located in Reno, Nevada.
On November 6, 2012, Justice Laurie McKinnon was elected to the Montana Supreme Court for an eight-year term, filling the position of retiring Justice James C. Nelson. She and her husband Capt. Gary L. Pannabecker live north of Choteau with their four children.