At the Sheboygan County Office of the District Attorney for the past eight years, Joel Urmanski’s best work goes beyond normal courtroom functions.
A force in the courtroom, he also shines when spreading expertise to legal and community groups, delving into everyday backgrounds of the accused, and making extra time to discuss concerns and recovery with those affected.
“Joel didn’t dream of being a superhero. He dreamed of being a prosecutor,” said Dione Knop, a victim witness coordinator for the county.
Urmanski, a Marquette University Law School graduate, is more grounded in his career assessment. He sees it as empowerment for the community and returning a voice to those affected by crime.
“Whenever a crime is committed, for the most part, there is someone who is victimized: whether that’s an individual or the community as a whole. They have their voice taken away,” he said. “I’m capable of being … someone who can say not only is that not acceptable, but we’re going to do something about it.”
In the Sheboygan County courts, he said he’s most proud of cases where the afflicted are strengthened in their recovery. For instance, when the case of a middle-aged woman who was drugged and sexually assaulted came to trial, Urmanski said it was important for the woman – and not just the case – to be able to point out her accusers from the stand.
Urmanski relishes his role of bringing a voice to victims.
“I never want to have regrets,” he said.
The political science undergrad said he wouldn’t shy from a higher profile role in state law if the time were right for his family and colleagues.
Not that he’s short on engagements outside of the DA’s office. Urmanski speaks to schools on dangers of the digital age, works with the shelter Safe Harbor, and has led law enforcement seminars on sexual assaults and police prep work in the court.
He also is helping answer the call by Judge Angela Sutkiewicz to create a regional service member veterans court. Urmanski and the court have worked with about a dozen veterans on counseling and other alternatives to jail or prison.
“Sometimes things you do or see in the military can have an effect,” he said, “so there’s a deeper reason behind some of these crimes.”