Bricco shows her toughness
From Wisconsin Law Journal Up & Coming Lawyers 2014.
An attorney has to be tough to succeed in indigent defense.
The evidence shows that Katie Bricco, a Waukesha public defender, is tough. She runs marathons, triathlons and half-Ironman competitions, and she plays for the Brew City Bruisers roller derby team.
That toughness has translated to the courtroom, where, after just three years, Bricco has tried six cases. Noteworthy among them is State v. Ingram, a 2013 first-degree intentional homicide trial for which Bricco was co-counsel.
Waukesha County does not have many homicide trials, she said, so the case received a lot of media attention. In the case, Bricco gave an unusual opening statement, in which she portrayed the words and demeanor of a key prosecution witness so the jury would listen to his testimony with skepticism.
Her client was convicted, but Bricco said she learned a lot from the trial.
“We felt at the end of the trial,” she said, “that we presented the best case we could.”
In State v. Hessil, she tried the case by herself. Bricco’s client faced several charges, including misdemeanor resisting an officer.
Her client claimed the arresting officer was antagonistic during the encounter that led to the arrest. Bricco said she did some digging and learned that the officer had similar conduct problems with a previous police department.
She was unable to get that evidence introduced at trial, but the jury still acquitted her client on the most serious charge and found him guilty of two lesser charges. At sentencing, the court revisited the topic of the officer’s behavior and imposed only community service.
“It was the first time I heard ‘not guilty’ when a jury came back, which was a great feeling,” Bricco said. “But also, we got validation. There was an acknowledgement that the officer made poor decisions, and my client made amends through community service and his ability to work. The right thing happened.”
Bricco’s work in the courtroom has left an impression on Judge Donald Hassin.
“She’s an outstanding young lawyer,” he said. “She’s prepared. She’s on time. She knows what she wants to do. And she goes about her business in a very professional manner.”