Burnett County District Attorney William (Bill) Norine is a man of many talents, abilities and experiences. He shares his interesting life story with us as today’s featured 21 Things You Might Not Know About Me guest writer.


One.  I live in the house I grew up in.  After my parents passed away, my then wife and I moved into the house in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, which is the only home I ever knew while I grew up, from my birth until I graduated from High School.  It is a modest but comfortable two story home in the village, and is for me a source of stability and strength to this day.

Two.  My dad was a courthouse janitor.   After selling his dump truck business, my dad spent the last 15 years or so of his working life as the custodian of the Burnett County Courthouse, which was then located in Grantsburg.  I often helped him clean on Saturday afternoons, where he let me roam the various offices, except the DA’s office, which he did not allow me to enter, which prohibition reflected his great reverence for the then DA, one Don Paul Novitzke, a man I would face in court many years later.  And yes, I am now allowed in the DA’s office!

Three.  I majored in Music at the University of Minnesota, and played at Carnegie Hall with the University of Minnesota Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble my senior year.

Four.  I played snare drum with the University of Minnesota Marching Band, and spent my Saturday afternoons watching our football team and its star quarterback: Tony Dunge.  

Five.  I earned a Masters Degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Six.  I graduated cum laude from Boston College Law School, where I was a scholarship student and also served as a research assistant in constitutional law.

Seven.  I co authored a law review article with Professor Zygmunt Plater, that is widely cited in environmental law books to this day, and was even quoted by Ralph Nader in his presidential run.

Eight.  I spent a year in New Hampshire clerking for the New Hampshire Supreme Court, where I had the honor of working under David H. Souter, who later served on the United States Supreme Court.

Nine.  I drove taxi in Boston for two years while in Graduate School.  I was once mugged at knife-point while working a late night shift in Roxbury, a depressed area of the city.   One of the two young men apologized as they disappeared into the night with my fare money.  I’ve always wondered what happened to those young men.

Ten.  I am a Massachusetts Artist’s Fellow in Jazz Composition.

Eleven. I have been deaf in my right ear since my college days.  While in college I suffered from severe menieres disease, resulting in disabling dizzy spells.  An unsuccessful four-hour surgical procedure left me more or less permanently deaf in my right ear.  

Twelve.  I taught at the world famous Berklee College of Music in Boston for six years and spent those years working as a professional drummer and musician, performing with some of the leading jazz and pop artists of our time.


Thirteen.  I have published two drum set method books that have been sold worldwide: Virtuoso Studies for the Drum Set, and Four Way Fusion for the Modern Drummer, both published by the Berklee Press and distributed by Hal Leonard, Inc.

Fourteen.  The first person I ever represented in court was a very nice young woman, the daughter of Herbert Brownell, former Attorney General of the United States.  The case was filed in landlord tenant court in Manhattan, a snarling snake-pit of a venue if there ever was one.

Fifteen.  My poems have been published in over thirty journals throughout the United States, and I have been featured poet in magazines from Nassau County New York to San Diego, California.


That Same Cloud

The other day I saw a cloud

that caused me to wonder, half out loud,

whether I’d seen its familiar form 

before, in the sky of another year. 

For before it floated out of sight

it culled such a striking shaft of light

I was sure I had seen that same sweet cloud

complete, in the blue of a June long past. 

Now if clouds’ ephemera reappear,

what lofty flourishes I’ll still do

should the winds of heaven move me to.


Sixteen.  I have had five cornea transplant operations.  I had my first transplant, on my right eye, while a Senior at the University of Minnesota, to address corneal disease I developed during college.   I had my last procedure, to address the most recent failed graft, while working in my present position.  I am told I might be facing yet another procedure this summer.  But I am thankful for my sight.

Seventeen.  My first law job was with Lord, Day and Lord, a Wall Street Firm and at the time the oldest law firm in New York City; I spent four years there.

Eighteen.  In 1991 I quit my job in New York City, and my new wife and I moved back to Minneapolis with no job and no prospects and no money, to care for my ailing parents.  One morning, while “working” out of my basement on my two “pro bono” cases in our tiny house on the south side, I got a call from a major law firm downtown asking me to come down and interview.   I spent five years with that firm, now known as Robins, Kaplan.  I will always be grateful for those fine people for “rescuing” me from my basement “law practice.”

Nineteen.  I once got hit by a truck on 5th Avenue in NYC.  Walking home from work in the dark and the rain (9:00 at night!) I had a “walk” sign at 5th Avenue and 51st Street.  But the westbound traffic on 51st had a green, and when a small yellow truck made a left, he hit me, sending me ten feet down the avenue.  I remember a woman screaming as I watched my glasses slide down 5th avenue in the rain.   I was able to get up, limped over to the driver who gave me his card, and limped the five blocks home.  I should have sued, but “the cobbler’s son has no shoes” as they say.   

Twenty.  I have two grown step sons, both of whom are successful engineers.


Twenty One.  I am the very last of the “Norine” line, and was so reminded at my Grandma Norine’s funeral long ago.   I was my parents’ only son; my two sisters (one of whom is deceased) took the names of their husbands, and I have but one cousin on my father’s side, whose father was a Stellrecht.   I have no biological children of my own.  My sister Ann, who died a few years ago, always told me “you have to make something of yourself.”   I have tried to do so; to bring honor to my family, to my friends, and to my ancestors, being, as I am, “the end of the line.”  To quote Robert Frost, “my object in living is to unite/my avocation with my vocation/as my two eyes make one in sight./Only where love and need are one/And the work is play for mortal stakes/Is anything ever really done/For heaven and the future’s sakes.”



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