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La Crosse DA on impeachment hearings: top witnesses not always first

Brad Williams

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At the start of impeachment hearings in Washington last week, Congressman Jim Jordan referred to opening witness William Taylor as the Democrats’ “star witness.” 

Jordan argued that since Taylor didn’t meet with President Donald Trump about Ukraine, then Taylor was a poor choice for a witness, and calling him first did not help the case being made by Democrats.

La Crosse County district attorney Tim Gruenke argues that in courtroom cases and government hearings, you don’t normally begin with the most important testimony.

“You don’t always start with your most important witness,” Gruenke said. “Sometimes you need to kind of lay the foundation for them, sometimes you’d have other witnesses set the stage for them.”

Gruenke added that who gets called to testify, at what time, can often depend on the personal schedule of a witness.   

By comparison, in the recent Erik Sackett murder trial in La Crosse, where Gruenke was the lead prosecutor, Sackett — the suspect — was the fifth witness called by the defense, not the first. 

The trial jury found Sackett “not guilty.”    

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