Today, Chatham County District Attorney Elect Shalena Cook Jones identified the members of her leadership team. The Executive Team consists of attorneys Michael Edwards, Jennifer Parker, and Nathanael E. Wright. DA-Elect Jones said, “I am very excited that these three amazing attorneys have agreed to join me on this journey to serve the people of Chatham County.” During the campaign, Jones promised a new style of leadership committed to diversity, innovative thought, and transparency in government.
This decision is most definitely a step in that direction.
Edwards will serve as the Chief of Personnel, Policy and Programming. A long-time criminal defense attorney, Edwards was the lead attorney responsible for establishing Chatham County’s first Public Defender’s Office. He recently returned from England where he taught various courses in criminal reform and restorative justice. As second in command, Edwards will supervise office staff and develop policies and programs with an eye towards crime prevention, intervention and lowering recidivism. In addition to courtroom experience, Edwards will bring managerial skills and a fresh perspective to prosecution. Recent studies have shown that defense lawyers-turned prosecutors tend to make better charging decisions and are more likely to abstain from improper prosecutorial tactics and be sensitive to racial and social inequalities than their “tough on crime” counterparts. Jones believes he will be a definite asset to the office.
Parker, a 20-year veteran of the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office, has been appointed as the Chief of Court Operations. Parker will supervise ADAs and oversee all court dockets to ensure that cases are prepared from the earliest stages to their conclusion and that prosecutors have the internal support and training necessary to become skilled advocates. Parker is a seasoned litigator who has worked at every level of the trial court. From Recorder’s Court to Special Victims to the Major Crimes Division, Parker has successfully tried some of the most difficult cases in the office. She will be instrumental in addressing the current backlog of cases and will work to ensure that court operations are efficient and effective.
Wright, who spent eight years in the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office before going into private practice, will return as the Director of Communications, Diversity, and Inclusion. In addition to being a skilled attorney, his master’s degree in public policy and affable personality will make him a great spokesperson for the office as he works with the press and the public to facilitate community education and outreach. Wright has also been tasked with recruiting qualified, diverse legal talent both state and nationwide.
The new administration will take office January 4, 2021 with a ceremonial swearing service to take place on January 8, 2021. Due to social distancing requirements, the ceremony will be closed to the public but may be streamed live on the Chatham County website and the DA-Elect’s Facebook page.