The Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association (WDAA) last week announced recipients of this year’s prosecutor of the year awards.
WDAA is an association representing more than 400 Wisconsin criminal prosecutors.
According to Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney who serves as the current President of WDAA, the awards are intended to recognize “the outstanding work” of a District Attorney, Deputy District Attorney, and an Assistant District Attorney.
An award ceremony was held earlier in November in Elkhart Lake at the fall State Prosecutors’ Education & Training conference.
Bayfield County District Attorney Kimberly Lawton is the 2023 District Attorney of the Year. DA Lawton is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Law School.
Kenosha County Deputy District Attorney Carli McNeill is the 2023 Deputy District Attorney of the Year. Deputy DA McNeill is a 2010 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School.
Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Sarah Skiles is the 2023 Assistant District Attorney of the Year. Assistant DA Skiles is a 2014 graduate of the Hamline University School of Law.
Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Dan Flaherty is the 2023 Rising Star. Assistant DA Flaherty is a 2011 graduate of the Boston University School of Law.
Rock County Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik was awarded the 2023 Distinguished Service Award. Assistant DA Urbik is a 1992 graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law School.
Green Lake County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Klomberg was awarded the President’s Award. Assistant DA Klomberg is a 2002 Graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law School.
“Congratulations to all of our 2023 recipients. We are grateful for your work on behalf of the people of the State of Wisconsin,” Toney said.
During an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal last week, Flaherty said, “It’s nice to be recognized.”
“I was very humbled by the nomination papers that my colleagues wrote, submitting me,” he added.
Flaherty currently serves as President of the Association of State Prosecutors, essentially the union that has been advocating along with the WDAA for an increase in prosecutorial pay.
Flaherty said he finds his job in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office to be very fulfilling, but also very challenging.
“As prosecutor, you don’t know how someone is going to react, and what their interests are. A part of what makes my job so fulfilling … fighting for victims, being a voice of voiceless when there is no one left to advocate for them (is fulfilling), he said.
“I really love the role of being a prosecutor, and what our office wants us to do,” Flaherty added.
Flaherty said he started out his legal career as a labor lawyer in New York.
“I never imaged myself as a criminal lawyer, let alone criminal prosecutor. I am thankful I have job where I have to find the right thing to do and fight for it. There are very few jobs in the legal world to do that,” he said.
Also during an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal last week, McNeill said as a Kenosha County native it has been incredibly rewarding to serve the people in the community in which she grew up.
McNeill said others in her office also deserve recognition for the outstanding work they do.
“One of the things important to me is not that many people that get award, but many people are responsible for getting to where we are. I give credit to (former DA) Bob Jambois,” she said noting how the victim witness coordinator and others in her office “will never get the limelight who are just as responsible for the work that we do and that’s true in every das office.”
McNeill also noted the unique geographic location of Kenosha County.
“Kenosha is an interesting place to work. While it is not the biggest city, we face some bigger city crimes. Sometimes it’s home grown. We can’t always blame other jurisdictions,” McNeill said, noting that some crime spills over from Lake County Illinois, and other crime stems from Racine and Milwaukee.
Among the challenges McNeill faces, the I-94 corridor.
“Along the 94 corridor, there are all types of crimes on an Interstate, drug trafficking, and homicides,” she said, noting how the COVID pandemic complicated matters even further.
“When people headed here from Illinois for less restrictive bars being open during covid, there was a substantial uptick in crime,” McNeill noted.
During an interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal last week, Lawson said she was grateful and honored for the award recognition.
“I never expected being in the Northwoods I would even be noticed. I never got into this job to be famous, and never expected statewide recognition,” Lawton said, noting “there is so much to prosecution. It’s multifaceted working with so many people (law enforcement and support staff), I couldn’t do this job alone” Lawton added.