Meet the Hennepin County Attorney candidate: Mary Moriarty

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Mary Moriarty stated that if reform is not pursued, the criminal justice system won’t be able provide public safety and level racial disparities.


Moriarty stated that reform and just system go hand in hand.


This insight was gained by Moriarty after spending 31 years in the Hennepin County Public Defender’s office, six of which were as chief public defender.


Moriarity stated that span style=”font weight: 400 I’m the only one in this race to have actually managed a large law firm.” Moriarity said that the Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office had 120 lawyers at the time she was there.


Moriarty stated that she held other leadership positions in the public defender’s offices, such as chairing the Behavioral health Committee. This work led to the creation Hennepin County’s Behavioral Healthcare Center, where officers can treat people suffering from mental or substance abuse crisis.


span style=”font weight: 400 I worked with the Minneapolis City Attorney’s office to ensure that they wouldn’t charge many cases if the person is brought there.” Moriarity stated.


Moriarty (58), who was born in New Ulm and settled in Minneapolis while attending law school. In 2021, she retired as a public defense attorney. However, she teaches at Harvard University and the University of Minnesota law schools. She also helps to train southern state prosecutors like Mississippi and Alabama.


span style=”font weight: 400 I do a lot training, which is really important when you’re a young office like the county attorney’s office,” Moriarty stated.


She is often asked about her transition from county public defense to county prosecutor. She explained that her experience as a public defense attorney helped her envision what a good prosecutor might look.


I sat beside and represented people. I was familiar with their social history. I knew they had experienced a lot trauma in their lives. They might not have sat next to me if we had intervened earlier. I was also able to see how the county attorney treated victims and those who had been hurt. It wasn’t always good. She said, “I know the judges, and I know the system really well.”


Moriarty stated that she would like a public safety system which does not result in mass imprisonment, racial disparities and people moving in and out of it. She said that this includes youth, those with mental health issues and chemical dependency.


For violent crimes such as murders or carjackings Moriarty stated that deterrence, which imposes strict punishments, does not do a lot.


Instead, she supports investing in more communities through programs that help residents who have suffered from high levels of gun violence over the years. She cited several programs that allow young people to communicate with their peers about the emotions that could lead to criminal acts. One program trains “trusted messengers” to resolve conflicts, while another seeks out loved ones and friends to help victims of violence to convince them not to retaliate.


Moriarty stated that she would advocate for diversion programs for youth, as well as people with mental illness and addiction. She is a member of the Hennepin County steering group for veteran court, drug court and mental court and she said that she has experience in creating such diversion programs.


Moriarty stated that she would not pursue anyone seeking reproductive care in Minnesota. Moriarty stated that she would not prosecute anyone who came from Minnesota if they were trying to extradite or prosecute them.


She is however interested in increasing accountability for officers.


span style=”font weight: 400 I’ve seen bodycams, dash cams, and cameras inside police cars. Moriarty stated that it took hours of the footage. “I don’t think anyone realizes that it’s the prosecutors who see this video more than the police leadership. As the county attorney, we will flag any behavior, policy violations and ensure that police leadership sees it so they can take action and add it to their .”

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