Governor Walker has appointed Melinda Tempelis as the new Outagamie County district attorney. She has worked as a prosecutor in the county for nearly 15 years. Tempelis will take over for longtime DA Carrie Schneider, who was recently selected to be a new judge. Read on to learn more about Tempelis. Here are a few things to consider before she takes over:
Vince Biskupic served as the district attorney of Outagamie County from 1994 to 2003. Before that, he was a prosecutor in Winnebago County. In 2002, he ran for state attorney general as the Republican nominee, losing the election to Peg Lautenschlager. Biskupic currently practices law in private practice. Biskupic graduated from Marquette University and earned his law degree from DePaul University College of Law.
In his capacity as District Attorney, Biskupic supervises defendants by postponing or halting their jail sentences. Typically, this means that a judge can grant an extension to the defendant’s sentence if they meet certain requirements. In one case, Biskupic’s attorneys asked a judge to pause a person’s jail sentence while he was undergoing substance abuse treatment. Biskupic’s office monitored whether the defendant complied with these conditions. Once the defendant completed substance abuse treatment, he would reconsider the punishment.
Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis says a recent pandemic has slowed down the criminal justice system and left thousands of cases unresolved. Due to the widespread outages, many hearings were held remotely. The vast backlog of unresolved cases will not be eliminated overnight. According to Tempelis, it could take two to three years for the office to clear its backlog. That’s why she has requested funding for four new full-time positions.
As a prosecutor, Melinda Tempelis respects everyone and is committed to customer service as a public servant. Her proven track record of success in the courtroom and as an office manager is second to none. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School and her Master’s degree from the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs. In addition to her experience in criminal defense, Tempelis is also a member of more than 15 state and local committees.
The Victim/Witness Program is a key component of the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office. The program assists victims with the preparation of court testimony, enforces confidentiality rules, and works with community and criminal justice partners to provide technical assistance. Volunteers and interns are also utilized to provide additional services. The Coordinator oversees the daily activities of these individuals. She also participates in special projects as assigned.
The Victim/Witness Program includes a federally funded Legal Advocate position. This position assists victims seeking restraining orders or other injunctions. Victims and witnesses can also request the assistance of a Legal Advocate to be present at court proceedings. Victims and witnesses are encouraged to provide any additional information that can help the prosecution with their case. Victims and witnesses are also encouraged to give additional information to law enforcement and prosecutor during the trial.
Number of prosecutors
A study in Wisconsin showed that counties need at least 25 additional prosecutors. However, that number was far higher than the actual number, at seven. The study found that only six of the prosecutors in Brown County could handle the caseload. Meanwhile, nine more prosecutors would be needed in Outagamie County. Outagamie County’s budget was passed in March but is only half as full as other counties.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin Watch published an investigation into how Biskupic and his staff handled the rewritten police reports of a man accused of murder. The investigation uncovered evidence of possible Miranda violations and missing taped “confessions” provided by the accused. Several of the prosecutors were subsequently exonerated, while the prosecutor argued that he had acted within the law. The disgraced former Winnebago County district attorney refused to respond to requests for comment.
Number of legal assistants
The Outagamie County district attorney’s office currently employs 29 people, 20 of whom are county-funded, two are state-funded employees, and nine are contracted from outside the county. As a result, there is a backlog of cases, delaying treatment for victims and restitution for offenders. Meanwhile, the circuit courts are short 120 prosecutors. As a result, there is a pressing need for additional legal assistants.
Among the tasks that legal assistants perform are answering the multi-line phone, greeting the public, entering referrals, and maintaining files and paperwork. They also assist with case preparation and research for the prosecutor, participate in pre-trial conferences, and follow up on projects and meetings. In addition, they oversee the daily activities of interns and volunteers. These assistants also play a critical role in the success of the district attorney’s office.