The last 16 months have drawn renewed attention to the challenges of fairly and independently investigating and prosecuting law enforcement. Hurdles include finding impartial investigators and prosecutors, determining the appropriate use of grand juries, interpreting the legal standard of “objective reasonableness,” and navigating the jury system. Dana Mulhauser has investigated these cases at the federal, state, and local levels, and will lead a discussion of this rapidly changing legal environment.
Dana Mulhauser is the founding chief of the Independent Investigations Division at the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. The unit was created by statute in 2021 as part of a package of police reforms throughout the state. It is charged with overseeing the investigation of all police-involved fatalities in the state of Maryland. From 2019 to 2021, Dana was the founding chief of the Conviction and Incident Review Unit at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The unit investigates and prosecutes all cases involving misconduct by public officials, including police shootings and other excessive uses of force. It brought some of the first excessive force cases and police shooting cases in St. Louis County in decades. The unit also created a conviction review process to examine prior convictions for claims of innocence or official misconduct.
Prior to that, Dana spent a dozen years at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where she was a prosecutor specializing in hate crimes, police excessive force, and human trafficking cases. She brought one of the largest labor trafficking cases in history, involving Guatemalan teenagers being forced to work at chicken farms in Ohio. She prosecuted multiple cases involving racially and religiously motivated violence, as well as the first-ever excessive force claims in Mississippi’s largest state prison and in the state of North Dakota.
She also worked as a fair-housing and fair-lending lawyer in the Civil Rights Division, and briefly as a domestic-violence prosecutor at the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office. She clerked for the Hon. Michael W. McConnell on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Before being a lawyer, she was a journalist, and she continues to write newspaper and magazine articles about legal issues. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Stanford University.
The Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows Program brings outstanding public interest attorneys to Harvard Law School to counsel students about public service. The program recognizes exemplary lawyers who have distinguished themselves in public interest work and who can advise students who are considering similar career paths. All students are welcome and encouraged to learn more and meet one on one with our Wasserstein Fellows.
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