The Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association named La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke as its 2013 State Prosecutor of the Year.
The organization made the annoucnement earlier this year but sent the statement below in advance of a conference this week.
"Mr. Gruenke leads by example. DA Gruenke had an extraordinary year in terms of the cases he litigated. His resilience and success in several intense homicides is, in itself, worthy of recognition. In the Koula double homicide, there was no forensic evidence linking the defendant to the murder scene, which required Mr. Gruenke to build the case around the defendant’s financial motive and his dishonesty. DA Gruenke spent over two years, including many weekends and evenings, investigating and building the case for the multi-week trial. Meanwhile, in 2012, Mr. Gruenke helped coordinate the investigations and prosecute four additional murder cases in La Crosse County – a domestic violence death by strangulation, the death of a student who was shot during a robbery, and another double homicide of a father and son during a robbery.
Even in an 'average' year, Mr. Gruenke is known as an above-average District Attorney because of the character he brings to the job. He provides attorneys perspective, serving as a moral and ethical anchor for many in the office and in the courthouse. Mr. Gruenke is known for never stretching the truth or compromising his integrity to win a case. He does the right thing even when it is unpopular. Beyond his sense of humor, DA Gruenke has a rare and perfect balance of logic and sensitivity, letting the law dictate his legal decisions but compassion guide his explanation of those decisions to people who must accept them.
Mr. Gruenke also mentors his colleagues, always making himself available to provide guidance and answer their questions even when it means a longer night or weekend of work for himself. He has taught his colleagues, and many others, to put service to victims above everything else. DA Gruenke always reminds his attorneys that regardless of their own hardships, such as a lack of pay progression, significant understaffing, and an insurmountable workload, a prosecutor’s job is to help crime victims whose suffering is paramount to any other.
Mr. Gruenke does not like the spotlight and seek any type of special recognition, which is how he has earned the respect of his fellow prosecutors and his community, and why he is particularly deserving of this award. Mr. Gruenke served as an Assistant La Crosse County District Attorney before appointment by the Governor as District Attorney in 2007. Mr. Gruenke is a 1995 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Tim also was named the La Crosse Tribune 'Person of the Year in 2012' and the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators’ 'Prosecutor of the Year.' In a November 25, 2012 editorial, entitled 'Actions of Ordinary People Offer Hope,' DA Gruenke explained why, despite the year he had, he has not lost hope: “In every case there might be one or two perpetrators who did something cowardly and evil. But in the same case there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of people who did something courageous, something great, something that didn’t get them anything other than the satisfaction of knowing they did the right thing for the right reason….So at this time of year…Be happy you live somewhere where good people still believe in doing good for goodness sake.”
The organization also named Trempealeau County Assistant District Attorney William Nemer as the 2013 State Assistant District Attorney of the Year. Here's what the group had to say about him:
"Mr. Nemer has been an assistant district attorney for well over thirty years. As is common in a county of Trempealeau’s size and with limited staffing, ADA Nemer handles everything from forfeiture traffic citations to homicide cases. Likewise, he remains available to law enforcement and the court whenever needed, including at night and on weekends for legal counsel for investigations and search warrants. In court, Mr. Nemer seldom concedes a point and always puts forth his best argument and effort. He shows excellent judgment and understanding of the law and facts in each matter. He upholds the highest professional standards. ADA Nemer always pursues justice and accountability, trying to ensure there is an appropriate consequence for criminal wrongdoing. Mr. Nemer is known for his exceptional knowledge of the law, determination through difficult times, and devotion to his job and to the people of Trempealeau County. His work ethic is unparalleled. Throughout his career, ADA Nemer has been the great stabilizer in the office, particularly during times of change, often carrying the weight of the office. After all, the district attorney was only a part-time position until about six years ago. When now-District Attorney Taavi McMahon tried to equalize the workload, taking some work from ADA Nemer, DA McMahon found that it was actually stressful for Mr. Nemer. ADA Nemer is known for taking vacation but still coming to work every evening because he takes his work very seriously and worries about his cases. In addition, Mr. Nemer often works weekends to prepare his own cases. He is simply not happy if he is not devoting his time to protecting the victims of crime in Trempealeau County. Finally, ADA Nemer is known by victims for being caring, compassionate, respectful and professional when dealing with victims of any age, from young children to the elderly. Bill Nemer is a 1978 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School."