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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.”    

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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