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Home / Supplements and Special Sections / WJA 2020: Stephanie Wan, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

WJA 2020: Stephanie Wan, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Stephanie Wan has wanted to combat violence against women since she attended middle school. That drive has propelled her to her role as Greene County’s chief assistant prosecuting attorney.

Wan was promoted to that position in February, but she has worked in the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office since 2007, handling cases involving domestic violence, sex crimes, child abuse and neglect, among other issues. Working in the office enables her to go home every day feeling as though she has accomplished something to make her community a better place while improving the lives of women and children, she said.

Stephanie Wan

Wan

“It’s been really phenomenal to be able to have that experience, and [it] feels great to look back on my time and be able to say that hopefully I’ve made a tangible difference in someone’s life,” she said.

A 2006 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law, Wan began her career as an assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where she worked on criminal cases on appeal. She wrote appellate briefs and presented oral arguments before the Court of Appeals for the Eastern and Southern districts of Missouri before joining the prosecutor’s office as an assistant prosecuting attorney.

In 2013, Wan was promoted to first assistant prosecuting attorney, supervising the office’s Persons Unit and working on cases involving child homicides and physical and sexual abuse of children and adults. A year later, she became first assistant prosecuting attorney for the General Crimes Unit in 2014, where she supervised and trained general crimes attorneys while continuing to prosecute cases.

Arguing cases in trial remains one of her favorite aspects of being a prosecutor, Wan said. Her nominators praised her experience and skills as a litigator, noting that in her 14-year career she has handled 59 trials and 39 appellate matters.  In 2019, she won the Lon O. Hocker Memorial Trial Lawyer Award, which is presented each year by The Missouri Bar Foundation to attorneys under age 40 who exemplify the best qualities of a trial attorney.

Wan said her role with the prosecutor’s office requires an extreme amount of passion, especially given the heavy caseload that accompanies it.

“The thing that I always say to my attorneys whenever we do trial practice . . . is that it’s all about being the most prepared person in the courtroom. I think that my ability to work hard and be prepared and strive to know the most about the case is one of the things that have made me successful in this job,” she said.

Her work also is stressful, requiring her to emotionally relate with people who are going through some of the hardest times in their lives. One of her greatest challenges is remaining a strong, empathetic champion for victims while leaving those stresses at the office and not allowing them to drag her down in her home life, she acknowledged.

“It is difficult because I don’t think you can do the job that I’ve done without empathy, but the more you empathize with victims, the more you take it home,” she said.

Part of her mission is to help the public or members of a jury to understand the nature and quantity of crime, Wan said.

“Being able to communicate to a jury or factfinder about why some of their previous ideas or misconceptions about abuse, neglect or sex crimes are maybe flawed or they need to think about other things can be a really difficult part of our job,” she said.

2020 Women's Justice Awards