James L. Santelle began his service as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Monday, January 4, 2010, following his appointment by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, December 29, 2009, and, before that, the confirmation of his nomination by the United States Senate on Wednesday, December 24, 2009. In this capacity, Mr. Santelle is one of 92 United States Attorneys nationwide and the chief federal law enforcement officer for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
On December 14, 2011, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed Mr. Santelle to a two-year term on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a 16-member group of United States Attorneys that provides counsel and perspective to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General on a variety of important criminal and civil litigation-related issues and, in further support of the law enforcement mission of the United States Department of Justice, renders decisions on various policy, program, management, budget, and general operational matters.
Mr. Santelle also serves on the Management & Budget, Native American Issues, Environmental Issues, and Civil Rights Issues Subcommittees of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. He chairs the Security Issues Working Group of the Management & Budget Subcommittee, which addresses a variety of matters related to the personal, physical, informational, and emergency-related safety and security of the United States Attorney community nationwide.
Mr. Santelle has been employed by the United States Department of Justice since July of 1985. For much of that time, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in which capacity he litigated both criminally and civilly a variety of financial, program-related, civil rights, property-based, environmental, violence-related, tort-based, employment, and other federal cases involving the interests of the United States of America and its many agencies.
From April of 2001 to April of 2002, Mr. Santelle served as the interim United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, initially on the appointment of Attorney General and then pursuant to federal court designation. For approximately two years before that, Mr. Santelle served as the Principal Deputy Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in Washington, D.C., responsible in part for the development and implementation of criminal and civil litigation policies and practices for the 93 Offices of United States Attorneys nationwide and the management of various administrative aspects of their operation.
From 1993 to 1999, Mr. Santelle served as the Civil Division Chief in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, charged with the supervision of the civil affirmative and defensive caseload on behalf of the United States Department of Justice in the district. He also served as the Civil Division Chief for the Office of the United States Attorney in the Western District of Michigan, performing like duties in that forum, from 2004 to 2005.
In February of 2006, Mr. Santelle began his service as a Resident Legal Advisor at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, where, with others, he worked with the leadership of the Iraqi judiciary to promote the Rule of Law and otherwise support the development of a fair, responsible, and productive system of justice. In October of 2006, the Attorney General appointed him to the position of Justice Attaché, in which capacity he was responsible for the supervision and management of virtually all Rule of Law programs and initiatives of the United States Department of Justice in Iraq.
In April of 2007, United States Ambassador Ryan Crocker appointed Mr. Santelle to the position of Rule of Law Coordinator for the United States Mission in Iraq. In that position, Mr. Santelle was charged with the development, management, and performance of a variety of diplomatic, financial, educational, governmental, and construction programs and policies in the areas of policing/law enforcement, corrections/detention facilities, and courts/judicial activity on behalf of the Iraqi citizenry.
In January of 2008, Mr. Santelle completed his two-year term of service in Iraq and returned to the United States, where he resumed his professional responsibilities as a Senior Litigation Counsel in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. For his work in Iraq, the Attorney General awarded him the Edmund G. Randolph Award, the highest recognition conferred by the Justice Department on its employees for service in support of the agency mission.
In the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Mr. Santelle recently completed service as the Chair of the Executive Board of the Milwaukee High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program and continues to serve on that board as a voting member. He also serves on the Courts Committee of the Milwaukee Bar Association and is a founding member of the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association, having served as its first Secretary. He is an active member of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association and of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Mr. Santelle is a 1983 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. He served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Robert W. Warren, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin from 1983 to 1985.