Terry Tessler

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Other News

Area attorneys: Committed to their work, family, and communities

Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
Norfolk Public Defender’s Office

Criminal Law

University of Miami
University of Florida, JD

Jewish organizations and involvement:
I have always valued and supported Hillel from my time on campus till present day.

Husband: Jeffery Tessler
Daughter: Skylar Tessler

Favorite Jewish holiday
Purim – I love the festivities, costumes, and traditions.

Most memorable Jewish milestone/life cycle
My daughter’s bat mitzvah in Puerto Rico. It was a lovely blending of both Jewish traditions and Puerto Rican customs. It was something special that you could tell doesn’t happen every day on the island. The community came out to see it, and they even invited the local catholic students to watch. They held a luncheon for Skylar afterward, which had both traditional Jewish food and Puerto Rican food. It was truly a special experience and blending of cultures.

Most admired Jewish lawmaker
Louise Brandeis, first Jewish Supreme Court Justice.

Personal legal milestone
Over 20 years with the Public Defender’s office, helping those most in need facing some of the biggest challenges of their lives.

Most memorable case
A roommate dispute escalated into a grand larceny charge for a college student. Had we not gotten this case dismissed, this young person, with their whole life in front of them, would have started life with a felony on their record. Having a felony on your record stays with you for life and has lasting consequences. It took a long time but we eventually were able to get the charges dismissed.

How has an understanding and/or commitment to Jewish values entered your decisions or actions as an attorney?
I was lucky to grow up in a Jewish home, with two loving parents who stressed education – not everyone has this. But we are still all human at the core. Treating people with kindness as you want to be treated is something I carry with me daily. Standing next to someone on their worst day, and being there to help them, is important to me. We tend to think of tzedakah as giving money, but it can also mean justice and helping others is an act of this.