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Carmody guides the next generation

Mentoring young attorneys is not an elective for Megan Carmody. She considers it a job requirement.

It’s a difference in perspective that stands out to people such as Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto, who said she brought up the assistant district attorney’s commitment to helping young attorneys to colleagues who were complaining about a lack of mentoring.

“They thought I was from another planet,” DiMotto said.

Carmody’s sentencing arguments were what first put her on DiMotto’s radar.

“She’s never looking at the papers in front of her,” DiMotto said. “She knows the facts to a T. Then she explains how she viewed those facts and why.

“It sounds so simple, but she does it so well. She has a real knack for explaining mental judgment.”

That, combined with Carmody’s willingness to take chances on young attorneys, has impressed DiMotto, she said. For instance, Carmody offered a second chair slot to a young attorney in a recent high-stakes case involving a sheriff’s deputy.

Carmody also has a consistent presence in the gallery, where she takes notes on young attorneys’ trials.

“It’s just remarkable that she carves out time to do that,” DiMotto said. “I’m sure I’ve seen it, but I can’t remember another team captain I’ve had in 15 years on the bench who has done that.”

It’s just part of the job, said Carmody, who worked her way up from juvenile and domestic violence misdemeanors to felonies. Now, 18 years later, she leads a team of prosecutors for Milwaukee County.

“They have to assume a much more serious schedule at an earlier point in their careers,” Carmody said. “They haven’t had much trial experience, and they’re in the deep end of the pool.”

So she offers those second chair slots and actually lets young attorneys — the oldest member of Carmody’s team is 29 — question key witnesses, even if it means more work for Carmody. She said it usually does.

“I wish to God someone had sat in the courtroom with me to say, ‘Do this. Don’t do this,’” Carmody said. “That’s part of my job. It has to be done.”


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