INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Two candidates have declared their intentions to seek the Democratic Party endorsement to become the next Marion County prosecutor.
Interim Prosecutor and longtime Chief Trial Deputy Ryan Mears announced he will seek to fill the remaining three-year term of his mentor Terry Curry, who announced two days earlier he was stepping down for health reasons.
On Tuesday, Special Counsel to Mayor Joe Hogsett Tim Moriarty announced his intention to run for the Marion County Democratic Precinct Committee Chairpersons’ selection and yesterday revealed that he had been endorsed by his boss, Rep. Andre Carson, City-County Council President Vop Osili and other top county Democrats.
Minutes after Moriarty released his endorsement roster, Mears said he was not taken aback by his opponent’s list of high-powered friends.
“I’ve been very humbled by the number of people who have reached out to me and who have said, ‘We think you’re the man for the job.’”
While Moriarty boasts of his recent experience as Hogsett’s architect of criminal justice reform and oversight of the planning and construction of the $585 million community justice campus on East Prospect Street, Mears will emphasize his track record as Curry’s right-hand man supervising criminal prosecutions for the past three-and-a-half years.
“I see this as a kind of opportunity to carry on with Terry’s legacy,” said Mears, “which I believe is, number one, acting with integrity, but also taking a hard line on violent crime and holding people who commit violent acts accountable.”
Since Aug. 1 the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office failed to prevail in two murder cases against defendants Harold Pulliam and Robert Dew while winning a guilty verdict against Darrin Banks for the killing of Malaysia Robson, a one-year-old girl who died when her east side house was sprayed with bullets in spring 2018.
During the first half of this year, when it came to prosecuting murder cases, Mears said his office won 42 guilty verdicts, including two verdicts on lesser felony counts, while losing six cases and dismissing charges against three defendants.
“That’s historically one of the best years that we’ve had in the prosecutors office going back to 2012,” said Mears. “The murder stats have improved significantly and I think a lot of that has to do with the caliber of prosecutors that we have.”
Mears said he hopes to stem the loss of several veteran prosecutors over the past few years by raising pay in his office.
“We need a more competitive salary structure and we’re getting to the point where we’re able to raise our starting salary so we can be competitive with the surrounding counties,” he said. “We do have a group of young attorneys who are hungry, willing and able to learn and we’ve worked with them and we’ve had great success this year prosecuting cases.”
While Mears highlighted his courtroom experience prosecuting cases, Hogsett pointed to his own history as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana as an example of the administrative role a prosecutor is expected to fill.
“I think that it is always good to have criminal experience and I think that that is an important aspect of the job but I think most importantly, and in my case I brought a large amount of experience in civil litigation, so I was familiar with the federal system, but in addition, I brought administrative skills that I hope enabled our office to operate in peak efficiency.”
In a statement announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Moriarty stated, “As a prosecutor, I believe I can implement holistic reforms that fundamentally address the mental health and addiction changes that face too many in our criminal justice system while helping to rid our neighborhoods of the worst of the worst.”
The Marion County Democratic Party will caucus at 10 a.m. on Oct. 5 to pick Curry’s successor.