For many working in the legal field, success is gauged by how much money is awarded or if a conviction is overturned.
But for June Spoerl, an attorney in the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office, success means never seeing a client again.
“I feel that I am most successful in those cases where you know you will never see them in the system again,” she said, “because of the resolution of the case or something that I did may have caused the case to get dismissed or may have showed the district attorney something that they didn’t think of.”
Sheboygan County Circuit Judge Jim Bolgert said Spoerl is a good advocate and counselor. She helps her clients, he said, by connecting the poor and mentally ill with affordable mental health services, referring Spanish-speaking defendants accused of domestic abuse to Spanish counseling, and directing clients who suffer from alcohol and drug addictions to group counseling.
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco, who often is on the other side of Spoerl’s cases, said he has respect for her work. He described Spoerl as upfront, straight-forward and someone who does a good job at trial.
“She’s very honest; she has a lot of integrity,” DeCecco said. “I appreciate that she plays the game fairly. I know that she is going to be the best she can for a client and doesn’t try any tricks.”
Becoming a public defender wasn’t Spoerl’s first choice, however. She initially wanted to be a police officer, but when she was not able to get over a wall and pass the physical agility test, she opted to go to law school. For a time, she worked at a private firm in Milwaukee, but decided to make a switch and became a public defender in March 1989.
Spoerl said she is mulling her future, and that may include more mission work. She has taken two mission trips to Haiti and was in the country when the 2010 earthquake hit, which she said was a life-altering experience.
Bolgert lauded Spoerl for her contributions to the Sheboygan community and beyond, as well as her professional excellence in the field of criminal justice.
DeCecco echoed his sentiments.
“(She is) one of the best,” the DA said, “because she has the experience, the temperament and integrity to be an effective defense attorney.”