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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Shake-up at the DA’s office signals changing of the guard

Shelby County District Attorney General Steve Mulroy, who took office Sept. 1, announced the formation of the Post-Conviction Justice Unit Tuesday (Oct. 18) and a veteran defense attorney to lead it.

Lorna McClusky

Lorna McClusky will direct the initiative, designed to review prior cases for “possible errors and false convictions.” The unit also will re-examine sentences that have been handed down to access appropriateness, considering any changes of the law.

Establishment of the Post-Conviction Justice Unit marks the second major change in as many weeks. Friday (Oct. 14), nine prosecutors were cut from the present staff.

Mulroy also has announced six new hires in a move to keep a campaign promise to bring “diversity and change” to the county prosecutor’s office.

Ernest Brooks II, Denania Galloway, Melanie Headley, Kindle Nance, and Krysa Scully are joining the office as assistant district attorneys general. Jessica Indingaro will serve as Special Assistant for Projects & Government Relations.

All will be brought on between now and mid-November, according to Mulroy’s newsletter. 

“These attorneys represent a wide breadth of professional experience. Together they bring our office closer to better representing the full diversity of our community. They include former prosecutors, former public defenders, and members of the private bar … some are former law students of mine and dedicated professionals whose skill and acumen I’ve admired for years. I’m honored to have them on our team…”

While announcing the new hires, Mulroy also said nine employees were let go.

Moving forward, Mulroy said more changes are coming and invited members of the community to offer input in the hiring process.

“Our office is still looking to fill several critical roles, including new positions that I created when I took office last month,” Mulroy said. “Among these are a Chief Data Officer, who will provide essential data analysis and transparency into the office’s performance…”

Mulroy indicated in last week’s letter that he was looking for “dedicated professionals who want to get in on the ground floor of a transformative reform effort to remake this office in line with best practices across the country.”

“If you know someone — or are someone —who fits that description, I encourage you to check out these and other positions at SCDAG.com.

The Shelby County District Attorney General’s office employs approximately 110 prosecutors.

Newly-elected D.A. Steve Mulroy updates Frayser Exchange Club members on his plans for the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku/The New Tri-State Defender)

McClusky graduated from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1994. Four years later, she joined the Massey McClusky Law Firm, where she advanced to managing partner, with nearly three decades of practice in criminal law. McClusky also has extensive experience in capital cases.

“This is an epochal shift for the justice system of Shelby County,” McClusky said. “We are looking forward to our unit advancing DA Mulroy’s vision of not merely remedying false convictions, but of creating a stronger legal system built on fairness.”

A recent death of an inmate at the Shelby County Jail, spotlighted conditions and practices that may indicate a massive violation of civil rights for the 2,300 inmates held in custody. 

Mulroy indicated in last week’s letter that he was asked in a recent interview why so many are locked up in pre-trial before they’ve even had their day in court.

“There are many people in jail right now who have not been convicted of any crime, yet are stuck behind bars for months, or even years,” said Mulroy.

“The reasons for this are complex and stretch back many years, and largely have to do with the way that the bail system works or fails to work in our community.

“The unfortunate outcome is that more people remain locked up for longer periods of time, regardless of their guilt or innocence, costing taxpayers extraordinary amounts of money without improving public safety. This must change.” 

The jail was built in 1981 and designed to house 1,200 inmates. The purpose was to construct a temporary holding cell for brief periods of time while inmates awaited their day in court. 

Expansions were made in 1989 and 1991 to accommodate the growing population.

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