Hennepin Attorney’s Office losing 14, decades of experience

In an office with historically low turnover, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is losing 14 people, including several top attorneys in the office representing decades of experience.

Fourteen people are leaving or have announced plans to leave since November, when Mary Moriarty, a former chief public defender, was elected as the county’s top prosecutor, according to a Hennepin County Attorney spokesperson.

Those positions include two deputy attorneys, one senior attorney, four assistant attorneys, two law clerks, one paralegal, one senior administrative manager, one senior administrative assistant, one legal services specialist, and one investigator.

Senior prosecutors in the office had supported Moriarty’s opponent Marth Holton Dimick, a former prosecutor and judge.

As a percentage, the number of departures is not significant.  The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) has 532 staff on payroll.

But half the departures - three senior attorneys and four assistant county attorneys - represent the loss of decades of legal experience.

For 30 years only two people - Mike Freeman and Amy Klobuchar - have held the office. Freeman, who decided not to run again, was first elected Hennepin County Attorney in 1990.

Amy Kloburchar was elected Hennepin County Attorney in 1998, when Freeman declined to run for another team.

Freeeman was elected again in 2005 as Hennepin County Attorney when Klobuchar became a U.S. Senator.

Freeman told FOX 9 earlier this month that Moriarty "didn’t get along very well with all of us" when she was Hennepin County’s chief public defender.

"You can't come into a job like this and say I’m going to take over, and we’re going to do everything differently," said Freeman. "I don’t think Mary’s trying to do that but if she does it’s not going to work."

Moriarty retired as chief Hennepin County Public Defender after she was suspended and investigated by the state board for creating a "culture of fear" in her office. She sued, and the case was eventually settled. 

"The voters in Hennepin County rejected the politics of fear," said Moriarty after her November victory. "The fear part was that we needed to continue to do the same failed policies of the past and so the voters resoundingly rejected that."

Moriarty has been critical of Freeman’s handling of so-called "Brady Cops," police officers with questionable credibility because of a documented history of misconduct or lying.

Such information is supposed to be shared with the defense.

But Freeman didn’t keep a list of so-called "Brady Cops," saying his prosecutors disclosed such information on a case-by-case basis.

The FOX 9 Investigators have previously reported that 244 Minneapolis police officers in the last 24 years had so-called "Brady issues."

Eighty-six of those "Brady Cops" – or about 12 percent of the Minneapolis Police Department – were still on the force in 2021.