Josh Shapiro’s successor to Attorney General won’t make the big stage – The Morning Call

The most powerful woman in Pennsylvania and the state’s chief law enforcement officer, she was facing sentencing on a string of corruption charges. The incident shook the state’s political and legal circles, shook public confidence in the pillars of society, and attracted national attention.

The case was full of sleazy tales of politicians.Kathleen Kane was elected the first Democrat to be elected Attorney General.But there was a more tragic side to this story. .

In an attempt to embarrass the former legislator, Kane leaked to the press explosive documents from a long-dead investigation into Philadelphia’s civil rights leader Wyatt Mondesier. Pushed to the front page of the whole thing, dragged his name out in the mud, and beat him up personally. He didn’t live to see Kane’s trial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele was one of two prosecutors working on the case.

Another prosecutor — then Bucks County Assistant District Attorney Michelle Henry — took on the important task of making jurors understand the personal toll of Kane’s dangerous political game. Calling his fiancée to the stand, he elicited intimate testimony about how the leak had irrevocably changed Mondesir, weakening his once mighty voice.

“She handled it with grace and empathy and made sure the jury understood the human element of what had happened to her fiancé in this regard,” said Steele. It’s just one example of Michelle’s ability to get

More than half a year later, Henry is ready to become the once jailed cop. Now the state’s first deputy attorney general, she will automatically take the top job when her boss, Josh Shapiro, becomes governor on Jan. 17.

When she becomes Acting Attorney General, she will ultimately oversee a vast and very powerful office with a budget of $114 million and hundreds of prosecutors, investigators and other staff spread across the state. will be

When elected in 2016, Shapiro, who had no experience as a prosecutor, won accolades for recruiting her as chief deputy — one of the most formidable prosecutors in the state. A year after she took her job, Henry was named a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.

“That’s not what you apply for. You have to be invited to it,” Steele said. “This speaks to her skill as a barrister.”

However, Henry’s colleagues admire her as Henry’s natural leader. Her tireless work ethic and her innate skill at building connections with people make us want to follow her, whether she’s with her colleagues or on a jury.

“When very difficult cases needed to be heard, she was first in line. Always guided by example. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said.

“Sometimes people look up to people to instill fear in others. But it wasn’t Michelle. Everyone wanted to be her best friend,” Weintraub said.

It apparently dates back to her law school days, where she made such an impression that even now, 30 years later, freshman tort law professors still remember where she sat in class. I remember her so vividly.

“She wasn’t the loudest in the class, but she was the most enthusiastic,” says Henry of Widener College Commonwealth Law School, where he graduated in 1994 after earning a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College in 1991. Professor Mary Kate Kearney said.

Carney said her classmates listened when she spoke.

“I imagine that trait came with her. She wasn’t someone who walked into a room and ruled by the force of her character, but by her intelligence and good judgment.” [she] Eventually become the leader of the room.

The two recently reunited at an alumni event. When Henry learned that the current Widener law student was there, he said that even though she was at the forefront of the state’s work, second only to the governor, “she insisted on seeing them and mentoring them.” I offered to do it.”

“That’s just her. I think she really wants to give back,” Carney said.

According to Kearney, it was clear to Henry in his first year of law school that he wanted to pursue criminal practice. After graduation, just two years after Weintraub joined the firm, she immediately got a job at the Bucks County DA.

“As assistant DAs, we’ve been through every conceivable situation together, moving all the way up the ranks until at some point both DAs are both bosses,” said Weintraub. rice field. “I couldn’t have more respect, kinship and love for someone I’ve worked with than Michelle Henry.”

She quickly established herself as one of the office’s top lawyers, successfully retrialing a difficult capital punishment case years after the murderer’s first conviction, Weintraub said.

But it was Kane’s prosecution that catapulted her into the national spotlight. Not only was Henry indicted for helping restore public confidence in the state’s primary law enforcement agency, but he was also trying to prove a crime his colleagues viewed as a blemish on their profession.

“I was sick and tired of Kane’s crimes,” Weintraub said. It makes us all look bad, sadly.”

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office filed the suit first, but decided to work with neighboring Bucks County. .

Steele’s office had worked with Henry before. When Montgomery County failed to prosecute a crime because of a conflict of interest, for example, when one of the office’s interns was the victim of a sexual assault. And so on, they called Henry, he said.

“Hiring someone with her excellent trial skills was an easy decision,” said Steele. “She’s smart. The stuff is her own and she does it very, very, very well.”

It was hard work. Their target is still in power as a sitting attorney general, and the trial will be held in the midst of national and statewide attention.

“If you’re going to criticize someone of that stature, you better shut everything down. You better be right, and you better do your best because everyone’s watching,” Weintraub said. Told. “We couldn’t have taken a greater risk when it came to public confidence.”

The months of preparation were exhausting. Steele said he was another reason the prosecution team wanted Henry.

“Michelle’s work ethic is unmatched. I got

At the other end of the court sat the best team of criminal defense attorneys in the country. Among them was one who counted the late mob boss John Gotti as a client.

It wasn’t good enough.

A jury found Kane guilty on all nine counts. She resigned the next day and she served eight months in prison.

“They couldn’t have chosen someone more competent and qualified than her.” I’d like to think that if there is, if they’re as good as they think they are, they can run for office for violations and prosecute the case. I don’t think very many have.

“Michelle handled herself well.”

Last order

every day

Get the top headlines from The Morning Call on weekday afternoons.

The felony-imposed case has tarnished Henry’s credibility as the apolitical prosecutor she had begun earning years earlier. Henry was appointed to serve the full term when the Bucks County District Attorney resigned in 2008, but she declined to run herself two years later.

“She can take the lead, but she works very effectively behind the scenes,” Carney said. I’ll gladly step aside so someone else can get a little more limelight.”

Historically, the acting attorney general and those appointed to fill vacancies have refused to run for statewide office when their terms expire, per Shapiro’s will in 2024. If Shapiro nominated Henry, she would make it into the Republican-controlled Senate.The confirmation process worked for one Democratic Attorney General, sent another to prison — and inaugurated himself. It has a history of not running a political campaign to

“Michelle was always thinking about working,” said Steele. “It’s not her title. She’s doing work for the people of Bucks County, the people of Montgomery County, the people of the state.”

(c) 2022 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

See the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Josh Shapiro’s successor to Attorney General won’t make the big stage – The Morning Call

Exit mobile version