When Barb Krueger was transferred to the State Public Defender’s Barron County branch in September 2017, the office was in dire straits.
The people working there, who represent indigent criminal defendants in both Rusk and Barron counties, could not find enough lawyers to appoint to overflow cases.
Krueger changed that.
The legal associate had come from the SPD’s Eau Claire office, where she had worked for 26 years of her 27-year career. Drawing on her broad network of contacts, she was able to find private attorneys to take on cases in Rusk and Barron counties. Some of those lawyers had to be brought in from as far as 200 miles away.
“A lot of them have found that they really enjoy it,” said Ryan Raymond, attorney manager for the office. “And really, it’s a situation where but for Barb and her connections, her experience, we’d be in a much worse position than we are now.”
Krueger’s work usually involves secretarial and managerial tasks such as making sure there are lawyers to provide needed representation. But she has also gone beyond her usual duties, serving subpoenas, interviewing witnesses and even accompanying lawyers on interviews.
Krueger said she enjoys the variety each day brings. She said it’s her colleagues who have had the most influence on her work.
“Seeing what our attorneys do for our clients is very rewarding,” Krueger said. “They don’t have a lot of resources and they really depend on our attorneys for a lot. So it’s nice to see that they’re getting help that they need — especially with juveniles.”
Krueger’s extensive experience and abilities were put to the test over the past year when Raymond was on leave for several weeks and a new attorney started working there.
“It’s been a tough year,” Raymond said. “She’s the one that makes sure everything gets done at the end of the day. … Barb is the one making sure everyone has a lawyer and that the office is running.”