David Dickmann’s transition from being a police detective to a public defender turned out to be a smooth one.
While working as a police officer and later a detective, he switched careers following 16 years of going to law school part time. His interest in defense work, especially for the state, had been piqued by a criminal-proceedings instructor.
“He was very dynamic and positive about public defending work,” said Dickmann, who is now regional attorney manager for the Stevens Point Region of the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. “It’s a very interesting job. The caseload is heavy and the cases can be challenging, but it has been great to help those who are less fortunate.”
In his past 23 years with the SPD, including the 13 he spent as regional attorney manager, Dickmann has worked on a variety of cases ranging from disorderly conduct to homicide.
“I like being able to help clients get their lives back,” he said.
That predilection played a role in Dickmann’s starting Central Wisconsin’s first adult treatment court in 2004. He worked with law enforcement officials from Wood County to create a program to help those with drug troubles get treatment and support.
“It’s proven to be more effective than sending them right through the justice system. We developed the court based on evidence and research practices,” Dickmann said. “We received a lot of support from law enforcement, including the sheriff’s department letting us borrow one of their employees at first to serve as a part-time caseworker until we got a grant for more funding.”
As regional attorney manager, Dickmann also oversees SPD attorneys in 13 counties in addition to his own caseload. SPD Director Kelli Thompson said he’s a great mentor to younger attorneys working in the Stevens Point region.
“He provides great leadership by example to other managers and staff in the region,” she said. “David has also forged solid working relationships with the criminal justice partners in the 13 counties served by his region.”
Dickmann said he appreciates the close ties he’s forged with local law enforcement officials.
“We have a strong relationship that I think especially helped with the forming of the treatment court,” he said. “It’s great to see so many people come together around a table to discuss a person and his case and what can be done to help him turn their life around.”