MILWAUKEE — The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has announced his departure.
James Santelle said Thursday, July 2nd he will retire from his position in the days ahead after 30 years of employment with the Department of Justice.
The 56-year-old Santelle says he'll complete a number of projects and initiatives before leaving office.
Santelle has served as U.S. attorney in Milwaukee for 5½ years.
Santelle issued this statement on his retirement:
“This Sunday, July 5th marks my 30th anniversary of employment with the United States Department of Justice and nearly 35 years of public service in the United States Government.
At this important milestone, I have decided that this is the right time to conclude my five and one-half years as the United States Attorney for the people of Eastern Wisconsin.
I expect to spend many of the days of this month in my present position, completing a number of projects and initiatives—related to the litigation, community, and administrative functions of my office—that have been and remain important to our goals and missions.
I am exceptionally mindful and supremely appreciative of the many, enriching and strengthening opportunities that the United States of America, including the United States Department of Justice, has extended to me and in which it has supported me unfailingly.
Following my graduation in 1983 from the University of Chicago Law School, the Honorable Robert W. Warren, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, brought me home to Milwaukee for a two-year term as one of his judicial law clerks. It was in that position that I not only began my legal career but also came to understand with greater depth the importance of litigation—both criminal and civil—as a mechanism to promote the interests of our citizens, to ensure due process and equal protection, and to accomplish justice in furtherance of the principles on which our nation was founded.
Two years later, the Honorable J.P. Stadtmueller, then serving as the United States Attorney, extended to me the opportunity to pursue those goals further as an Assistant United States Attorney. He, like all of the other United States Attorneys who followed him, encouraged and sustained my growth as a litigator for the federal government. Throughout many of the past 30 years, it has been my supreme honor to prosecute a wide variety of criminal cases with the purpose of promoting the safety and security of our community and ensuring the protection of victims. I have also been privileged to litigate a broad spectrum of civil cases, defending the interests of the United States in some and affirmative seeking remedial relief on behalf of its citizens in others.
Along the way, my supervisors and colleagues have vested in me various special responsibilities and tasks—including work as a Senior Litigation Counsel, as an Executive Assistant United States Attorney, and, arguably with most case- and court-related focus, as the Civil Division Chief for this district and for the Western District of Michigan. In all of these litigation assignments—and in various opportunities to provide training to colleagues both locally and nationally—I have benefited immeasurably from the counsel, the direction, the wisdom, and the judgment of my many outstanding colleagues throughout the United States Department of Justice—including Assistant United States Attorneys, Litigating Division Attorneys, and equally skilled and highly experienced professional staff.
That same Justice Department, led by distinguished and committed Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General, has further permitted me the professionally transformative and personally enriching opportunities to serve in other special roles—including two years of work with the Iraqi people, their leadership, and their nation in developing the institutions of good government and the rule of law in areas throughout that still-emerging nation, including Baghdad and the United States Mission there. And for some 2-1/2 years, I was specially honored to serve in a leadership position of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys at the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building in Washington, D.C.—working in collaboration with lawyers and others there and throughout the nation on issues, cases, challenges, and projects critical to the work of the Offices of United States Attorneys nationwide and other vital litigation units of the Department.
Since January of 2010, Attorneys General Eric H. Holder, Jr. and Loretta E. Lynch have not only supported, encouraged, and inspired me and my cherished colleagues of United States Attorneys nationwide in the pursuit of our assigned roles as chief federal law enforcement officers but they, along with their exceptionally engaged staffs, have also given to me and others the mechanisms, the discretion, the capacity, and the vision to do what the Department was initially and remains to this day commissioned to do—that is, serve our nation and its people in abiding, focused pursuit of an achievable aspiration—justice. I extend my deep thanks to Attorneys General Holder and Lynch for doing just that—and I communicate with equal spirit and sincerity my unqualified appreciation to and admiration of the many Assistant United States Attorneys, professional staff members, and the tireless, brave, and honorable law enforcement officers here in Eastern Wisconsin and in every state of our Union—who every day live up to and exceed our country’s expectations for the delivery of balanced justice, fair treatment, and thoughtful humanity, even in the midst of dramatic challenges and compelling human tragedy.
Because the job of United States Attorney typically concludes at or about the time that a new President is sworn in, and because I have been privileged already to have worked in the federal government for over three decades, I have long considered options for my next, suitable engagements with the community I so cherish and whose leadership representatives—in social service agencies, advocacy and victim support groups, health care and educational units, faith and familial associations, and many other industrious and productive non-governmental organizations—are assets of terrific depth and immeasurable scope. As my time with the United States Department of Justice nears a conclusion, I am looking forward to those continued, exhilarating engagements in this place—my home—and perhaps beyond. Among other pursuits, I hope to do some long-delayed writing about my life experiences, some teaching to those who may benefit from those modest perspectives, and perhaps even some renewed traveling to places where people—our fellow women and men—seek with hope and are committed to achieving the lives and livelihoods of the sort that we enjoy with imperfection but abundance here in America.
It has been and will always remain my honor to have served our nation and our citizenry, and I am appreciative beyond words for the opportunities for that that have been bestowed generously and graciously on me to engage in this work. To the people of Wisconsin and of our nation—to all of you who have animated and breathed life into mine—I extend, as I have in other farewell settings, this adopted commission: “More Life. The Great Work Begins.”