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Cardamone strives to put the ‘human’ in ‘beings’

Guy Cardamone - Wisconsin State Public Defender

Guy Cardamone – Wisconsin State Public Defender

As a young kid, Guy Cardamone always had an interest in law. He struggled to follow rules without understanding the “why” for what he was being asked to do.

“I sort of demanded, even at a young age, a seat at the table and an opportunity to weigh in and question the rules my parents and teachers were setting,” Cardamone said. “But I was not a good student, at least not until college, so occupations that required hard work and studying were completely off my radar.

“I suspect, though, like many of your readers, I eventually found my purpose, and forced myself to find the ‘practice’ that would help me achieve that purpose: the law.”

Today, Cardamone is an assistant public defender and training coordinator in the State Public Defender’s Office. He said that his biggest difficulty is proving that his clients are actual people and deserve to be heard.

“In our system we isolate the accused,” he said. “Sometimes literally, by having them in jail awaiting trial, but also by walling them off behind their lawyer. We justify it because we know that oftentimes people say things that make their situations worse. So to avoid that risk we turn them off completely and, forgive the expression, throw the baby out with the bathwater. That puts most of the burden of recreating a person on us. There is no greater challenge.”

Crystal Vera, assistant state public defender, started working at the office in 2017, on the same day as Cardamone. Since then, the two have become good friends, and Vera often seeks out her “work husband” for advice.

“Guy has spent the last year and a half teaching young public defenders not only in the state of Wisconsin, but also nationwide,” Vera said. “He is an awesome teacher. Passionate, caring, genuinely wanting to see his students succeed.”


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