The case that haunts them

Published 11:40 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

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An editorial opinion of The Greenville Advocate

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer talks with The Greenville Advocate staff reporters on a regular basis. Frequently, she provides details related to current or pending court cases, giving needed information for journalists to craft a story with accurate facts on important trials.

Just as often, Tesmer describes the functions of her office, highlighting the many ways she and her staff advocate for residents in the tri-county area by building and prosecuting cases and testifying at parole hearings.

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In addition, Tesmer is there, responding almost every time a major crime is committed. She is at the scene or on the phone with first responders when tragedy strikes and a criminal is at large.

Tesmer and her staff also represent victims when the convicted felon comes up for parole. She, or one of her staff, talk to and meet with victims and their families, to learn whether they feel the convicted person should be granted parole.

Tesmer began her career in 1987 as an Assistant District Attorney for Butler, Crenshaw, and Lowndes counties and held that position for 14 years. In 2012 she was appointed as District Attorney and was reelected to the office twice since then.

Like many court officials, and individuals working as law enforcement officers and first responders, Tesmer remembers the cases she prosecuted. She also remembers the victims and their families who relive the trauma of the crime each time the perpetrator comes up for a parole hearing.

For Tesmer, and those in similar roles, the role is much more than a job, it is a calling. She takes pride in bringing justice, to the convicted and for their victims. There are the cases for which she can sleep well knowing justice was served, but sometimes even those cases fall into another category and become “the case that haunts” her.

Tesmer once described the haunting nature associated with some of the most heart wrenching cases, the ones that involve child victims.

Witnessing the trauma victims face is not easy. Neither can one remain unaffected by involvement in prosecuting trials where families of both the victims and the accused are torn apart by murder, torture, abuse, and other heinous crimes.

Communities are blessed to have public servants like Tesmer and the others who work to bring about justice. Citizens should remember that court officials, law enforcement members, and others bring a bit of it home with them during and afterward difficult arrests, investigations, and trials. 

We applaud those, like Tesmer, who work to make our rural communities a safer place to live. We wish to thank them for their part in the criminal justice system and we encourage readers to avail themselves to offer these selfless individuals a word of encouragement, early and often.