SHERIDAN — A lot happens over the course of 32 years. For Matt Redle in his tenure as Sheridan County prosecuting attorney, he experienced a host of changes, tribulations and triumphs.
Before establishing the public defender’s system, judges would choose attorneys from a list.
“The judge would run his finger down the page, and the attorney with the least experience and the least time as a practicing attorney and they said, ‘Tag, you’re it,’” Redle said.
Six months following a case as a public defender, the county attorney called Redle and asked if he was interested in filling a position at the county attorney’s office. With some experience in criminal law during his years of schooling, Redle missed it and accepted the position.
The moments impacting Redle the most during his time did not come from successful court cases, but from the camaraderie of his staff and local entities.
“Two cases stand out because of the difficult nature of the investigations and the teamwork between law enforcement and prosecution,” Redle said.
Two “stone-cold whodunnit” female murders, investigated in similar ways in Sheridan County, impressed Redle. A third “DNA” case resulted in Redle discovering the importance of DNA in cases. The lack of advancement in the area led him to eventually serve as a leader on several boards, commissions and task forces to help move DNA testing into the future.
In 2009, Redle testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing called “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States” following the release of a report on forensic science from the National Academy of Sciences.
“That was pretty cool,” Redle said.
Redle stands out to his colleagues because of his extensive experience and problem-solving mentality.
“The idea is that the prosecutor does [prosecute a case], but the prosecutor needs to also be looking to be a problem-solver, too, and to help solve these problems,” Redle said. “Just simply processing cases doesn’t necessarily change the result in the long run.”
He and his staff work beyond the call of duty to help provide solutions to the problems prosecutors deal with on a daily basis. Because of proactive outlooks, Redle and his team have established systems like drug court and the victim witness advocacy program.
The job came, and will continue to come, with its own set of trials as well. One was attempted arson of the county attorney’s office. Despite having no leads and no motive to work from, Redle said his staff remained professional despite their fear throughout the situation.
Redle explained his personal experience with vicarious trauma, which the American Counseling Association describes as emotional residue of exposure that [a person] has from working with people with trauma stories and becoming witnesses to the pain, fear and terror that trauma survivors endured.
“[The job] takes a toll on you,” Redle said. “It will be good to close this chapter in the book.”
Redle made his mark on Sheridan County, the prosecutor’s office and especially his colleagues. Dianna Bennett, who will be vying for the open seat alongside Jeremy Kisling this fall, started with Redle near the beginning when the office employed only Bennett, Redle and Stuart Healy.
Bennett was able to work alongside Redle and Healy and learn about every role the county attorney plays for the community. She appreciates Redle’s expansive knowledge about the position and the judicial system. Bennett looks forward to potentially moving into the role of administrator and manager, rather than just prosecuting like she’s done the past 18 years.
Kisling looks to harness the power of new technology and “create an environment of consistency and effectiveness in dealing with victims, law enforcement, defendants and civil matters while eliminating subjective bias.”
Once Redle finishes his time as county attorney, he will remain in the federal, state and local circles for judicial reviews and advancements by continuing to serve on boards. He hopes the incoming county attorney will be willing to break away from his ways of doing things and create an even better future for Sheridan County and the judicial system as a whole. Redle steps away from 32 years of trials and triumphs.