La Follette School of Public Affairs alum Peter Tempelis is Wisconsin’s 2015 Assistant District Attorney of the year.
The award — given out by the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association — was presented to Tempelis at the Wisconsin State Prosecutors Education & Training conference in Lake Geneva on May 14.
"I appreciate the WDAA recognizing the dedication and hard work of our attorneys, staff, advocates and investigators. It's a testament to top-down leadership in District Attorney (John) Chisholm's office,” Tempelis says.
"I also want to thank the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the District Attorney's office for taking a chance on me,” he adds. “I am a product of the university and those who generously gave their time to mentor me throughout my career."
The 2006 Master of Public Affairs graduate was nominated by Kent Lovern, Milwaukee County chief deputy district attorney, who called him “a model prosecutor.”
Lovern says Tempelis deserved the award for his work “leading our office's Domestic
Violence Unit, as well as his tenacious advocacy for the DA program statewide.”
Tempelis is the team captain of the county’s Domestic Violence Unit, where he leads a team in the handling of misdemeanor and felony cases, and handles a caseload himself. In 2014, the unit prosecuted 550 felony cases, thousands of misdemeanor cases and conducted 76 jury trials.
“Peter himself handles complex cases ranging from stalking and attempt homicide charges to DV (domestic violence) prosecutions against police officers,” Lovern wrote in the nomination. “His leadership of the Domestic Violence Unit has led to ever increasing amounts of felony cases charged and tried, nearly doubling those amounts from four years ago. The overall trial conviction rate in the Domestic Violence Unit is 80%, which is remarkable considering the difficult dynamic we all know exists in those cases. His leadership of the unit has been nothing short of exemplary, as he models the best combination of advocacy and ethics.”
In addition to his leadership of the Domestic Violence Unit, Tempelis led the implementation of the Lethality Assessment Program for domestic violence cases, now used by law enforcement throughout Milwaukee County.
“This will enhance the ability of law enforcement officers to better interview, determine and advise domestic violence victims of the likelihood they could become the victim of a homicide,” Lovern wrote. “Peter has been called upon to instruct statewide on the value of this assessment tool.”
The nomination also cited Tempelis for being a champion for prosecutors statewide. Four years ago, he asked the La Follette School to conduct a yearlong study of attrition in the DA program statewide. This report helped support the successful enactment of pay progression for prosecutors. This year he authored a piece in The Wisconsin Lawyer, advocating for the continued support of the DA program.