Joanna Sandstrom is an attorney with a legal practice focused on appeals and other post-conviction relief with an interest in incompetence, insanity, and other mental health defenses.
Born and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Joanna attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, before moving to Washington, D.C. to work in public service. After a brief stint on Capitol Hill and 4 years working for the Department of Defense, Joanna decided to pursue the law, and attended American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington, D.C. While there, she worked with the Innocence Project as well as both defense and prosecution clinics.
After passing the Florida Bar Exam in 2004, Joanna started her legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office, the largest prosecutor’s office in the state of Florida and the 4th largest in the nation. After a little less than 3 years, she received the opportunity to fill a newly created role as the Felony Mental Health Attorney at the State Attorney’s Office. In that role, she became the in-house expert on all things related to mental health defenses and mental illness. She worked closely with local, state, and judicial officers on issues surrounding the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system. She is proud to say that she was instrumental in the creation of the Miami-Dade County Felony Mental Health Diversion Program, the Miami Dade County Forensic Alternative Center, and the Miami-Dade County Veteran’s Treatment Court.
After 15 years as a prosecutor, Joanna decided to take a brief break from practicing law to take a deeper dive into the issues surrounding mental illness in the United States. To that end, she moved to New York City to attend Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, where she received a MS in Sociomedical Studies in May 2020. Her thesis was entitled “Doing What Needs to be Done: Mental Health Courts and Therapeutic Jurisprudence”.
In addition to her membership in the Florida Bar, Joanna is also a member of the Dade County Bar Association, the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, and the League of Prosecutors.