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Sanford there for clients at tough times

Sanford there for clients at tough times

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Court was the natural place for Eric Sanford, who is the son of a prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney and the grandson of a judge.

“The driving force for me to get involved in the law was seeing my father prep for his cases,” said Sanford, an assistant state public defender in the state’s La Crosse office. “I really homed in on criminal defense while in law school and knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Sanford acknowledges he never knows what to expect from his days.

“Everything changes,” he said. “It’s almost unbelievable what we deal with daily, but it’s all focused on the client. I’m working with them at a bad time in their life, and it’s my job to help them when there might not be a lot of people there for them.”

Since he deals with more than one case at the same time, the days are very fast-paced and “you never quite know what to expect,” Sanford said.

Among the cases he’s handled was one involving first-degree intentional homicide, which occurred during his first year at the public defender’s office. There have also been cases ranging from juvenile delinquency and mental commitments to serious sexual assault. Sanford is also the office’s representative on the La Crosse County Veterans Court, providing the defense perspective on legal matters, fair treatment of court participants and other matters.

“Eric brings great enthusiasm for his job, his clients and his co-workers, and he is known for his unlimited energy in working for his clients,” said Tom Locante, the local office manager for the public defender’s office.

With so much going on at work, Sanford said it’s important to know when it’s time to shut off the computer and go home.

“It’s a challenging job. The cases don’t let up and the clients can be high maintenance since they might not have a permanent phone or home so you’re like, ‘How can I stay in touch with you?’” he said. “But I’m there to help them, and sometimes

I’m the only person in their corner.”


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