Charlotte Tesmer: An advocate, dedicated to public service

Published 8:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

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Charlotte Tesmer, District Attorney (DA) for the Second Judicial Circuit, encompassing Butler, Crenshaw, and Lowndes Counties, has been recognized as Hero of the Week for her exceptional dedication to public service and advocacy. 

Governor Robert Bentley appointed Tesmer as DA in 2012, a position she was re-elected to in 2016 and 2022. In addition to her local contributions, Tesmer was elected to serve on the executive committee of the Alabama District Attorneys Association in 2021, further highlighting her impact and influence in the legal sphere.

“When I was in law school, I enjoyed criminal law,” Tesmer said. “I was offered a job down here. I prosecuted for 14 years and defended for 10 years. You get to see both sides of the fence. You get to see families of the defendant and of the victim and I think that made me a better prosecutor because victims and their families don’t choose to be in the system.”

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Graduating from Jones School of Law in 1985, Tesmer embarked on her prosecution career as an assistant DA in 1986. During her 14 years as assistant DA, she co-founded the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center, a crucial initiative aiding abused children, and contributed significantly to establishing the Second Judicial Court’s Drug Court Program.

Inett Jackson, who met Tesmer as a legal client, emphasized her integrity and compassion: 

“She does her job no doubt but she’s fair,” Jackson said. “She really cares about people.” 

Jackson recounted how Tesmer’s involvement with her ministry, His Hands and Feet, showcased her dedication beyond her professional duties. The organization aids women reintegrating into society after legal or substance abuse issues. 

“[Tesmer] was the first call I made when the house was opened, and within a week, it was fully furnished,” Jackson said. “She’s just an excellent human being.”

Tesmer understands that not all people like her. She explained that not all victims or their families are happy with the outcome of their case, but she works to bring justice, whatever that looks like.

“I try to do right by both sides,” Tesmer said. “I try to do right and look for justice. It’s a double-edged sword and I’ve just tried to do the right thing and do justice, which is different things to different people. I do the best I can.”

Rosie Till, Director of Butler County Emergency Management Agency and former colleague of Tesmer’s, reflecting on their time working together and shared insights into Tesmer’s character and work ethic. 

“I knew she meant business and handled each case with care from working within Butler County, but I saw the heart and soul she put into her position when I worked alongside her,” Till said. “Of all the work-related knowledge I gained from my time at the District Attorney’s office, her guidance on life in general and her genuine friendship has by far meant the most to me.”

Beyond her professional achievements, Tesmer is a devoted wife and mother, finding solace in spending time with her family and engaging in community activities. However, her dedication to her role as DA means being on call 24 hours a day, highlighting the demanding nature of her position.

Tesmer teaches a small-group Bible study at Lifeline Church in Greenville. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking for others, and provides meals for church events and neighbors needing encouragement.

“I cook for people, that’s kind of my release,” Tesmer said. “That’s my downtime is to cook. It gets my mind off [cases].”