We are proud of our August Profile featuring Tony Nemo. Tony is in our Minneapolis office and has been practicing law for over 24 years. Watch Tony’s video and read his attorney profile and get to know him a little more.
What is your most memorable case/experience throughout your 24 years of practicing law?
Tony: My most memorable case involved an execution-style murder that occurred near the Prairie Island Casino. The victim was shot to death at close-range with multiple rounds fired from a 38-caliber revolver while attending a party near the Treasure Island Casino on Prairie Island, Minnesota. Based upon witness testimony and evidence collected at the crime scene, a tribal member was indicted and charged with the murder. Unfortunately, the jury was not convinced that the defendant committed the murder and he was acquitted. The decedent’s family tried for months to find a lawyer to represent them in a wrongful death action against the acquitted defendant without success, and finally called me. I felt very bad for the surviving parents and two small children, so I agreed to represent them. One of the problems faced by prosecutors in the criminal case was that no murder weapon was ever found and there was nothing to link the defendant to the murder. Shortly before trial, the defendant’s car was stopped in Red Wing for speeding. When the police officer approached the car, he observed a 38-caliber revolver on the front seat. The gun was confiscated and placed in the police department’s evidence room. Shortly before trial, my paralegal Tracy Dimmick and I learned about the existence of the gun and we hired a retired ballistics expert who had recently retired from the Minneapolis Police Crime Lab to examine the weapon. The expert concluded that the bullets recovered from the sand below the decedent’s shattered skull were likely shot from the defendant’s 38-caliber. After a two-week trial, the jury concluded that the defendant “wrongfully and intentionally” shot and killed my clients’ son and they awarded the family substantial compensation. My clients will receive monthly payments from the defendant’s per-capita casino payments for as long as the defendant remains alive. Achieving justice for this family and the deceased young father was one of the most memorable experiences I have had during my practice.
What is the most rewarding part of your career so far?
Tony: The most rewarding part of practicing law is fighting for and obtaining justice for folks injured by bad people and by corporations that put profits over the safety of others. When injured people come to our office, we can take on their burdens of loss and fight like hell to make sure the persons or corporations responsible for those losses pay the price for what they have done. The law cannot take away an injured person’s pain or their physical and emotional losses. But the law can make sure that the wrongdoer pays sufficient money to the insured person to try to make them whole again. Being an integral part of this process makes it exciting to get up in the morning and come to work.
What would you say to someone who unsure if they should hire an attorney?
Tony: If someone thinks they need a lawyer, they probably do. If they are unsure, they should call our office and set-up a time to meet with one of our attorneys. It doesn’t cost a penny to meet with a Meshbesher lawyer, and the most important thing they will get from us during a consultation is straight-talk. If we don’t believe a potential client has a valid legal claim, we will say so and explain why we believe that to be the case. If we believe the person has a legal claim to pursue, and we think they would be better off financially to pursue the matter on their own, we will tell them that too and explain what steps they need to take to resolve the claim. If we think the potential client has a legal claim that would benefit from legal representation, we will offer our legal services on a one-third contingent fee basis – meaning that the client only pays us a fee if and when they receive compensation. There is simply no risk in contacting and meeting with a Meshbesher lawyer, and they will leave the consultation better informed about their rights and with a better understanding of how our legal system works.
What do you like to do when you have free time?
Tony: My wife Mary and I have a small cabin the woods east of Ely, Minnesota, where we enjoy spending time with the wolves and the deer. We also enjoy fishing, gardening, remodeling projects, cooking and traveling. My favorite pastime is sitting by a campfire in the woods, listening to the wolves howl, and looking up at the stars. It reminds me that anything that may be causing me stress is insignificant when compared to the expanse of the universe.
What keeps you interested in the law?
Tony: I enjoy the diversity of legal issues, legal problems, and medical/scientific evidence that arise in the cases I handle. Every case is different, and there is always an opportunity to learn something new. I am also honored to be a lawyer. Lawyers were central to the development of democracy in the United States (almost everyone who participated in drafting the Constitution and writing the Declaration of Independence was a lawyer), and lawyers continue to preserve our democracy and maintain social order. In order to have social order, you need to have laws, and somebody has to know those laws and enforce those laws for the benefit of society. That is what lawyers do every day, and I am proud to be an active member of this honorable profession.
What do you wish you would have known when you started practicing law?
Tony: Surround yourself with legal talent, analyze what they do and how they do it, and then create a set of skills and a style that works for you. Ask questions. Don’t worry about revealing your inexperience to your colleagues. Everyone was a young lawyer at one time, and lawyers in your firm will welcome the opportunity to display their own knowledge as they answer your questions. Don’t miss an opportunity to attend an oral argument or trial by an experienced attorney. An important part of your development as a great lawyer is watching those with experience so you can develop your own skills. Be professional and respect those for whom you work and those who work for you. Everyone from the senior partner of the firm to temporary support staff deserve your respect and your kindness. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy life outside of your practice. Plant a garden, play a sport and, most importantly, spend time with your family. During my early years of practice at Meshbesher & Spence, I was fortunate to be surrounded by great lawyers (Ron Meshbesher, John Sheehy, Mike Snyder – just to name a few) who taught me through their words and example how to be an effective advocate and the importance of maintaining a normal, happy life outside the office.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an attorney?
Tony: If I was not a lawyer, I would likely be a physician. I was in the pre-med program as an undergraduate, and majored in Biology. From an early age I wanted to be doctor because I had a deep desire to help people who are hurting. At the same time, as a youngster, I was a devoted fan of Perry Mason and was fascinated by the news stories about Ron Meshbesher — Minnesota’s version of Perry Mason – and his famous kidnapping and murder cases (such as the 1972 kidnapping of Virginia Piper, the 1974 kidnapping of Eunice Kronholm, the 1977 murder of Elisabeth Congdon, and the 1980 kidnapping and murder by Ming Sen Shiue). In the end, I felt that my calling was to help people with their legal problems rather than their medical problems. I have never regretted by decision.