Mitch Morrissey, Owens-Early Criminal Justice Fellow

Mitch Morrissey was the elected District Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District (JD), from 2005 to 2017. Prior to 2005, Mitch was a trial lawyer in the Denver District Attorney’s office beginning in 1983. Mitch is internationally recognized for his expertise in DNA technology, applying that technology in criminal prosecutions, and working to ensure that DNA science is admissible in court. He has trained law enforcement officers and prosecutors throughout the United States, in the Middle East, in Central America, and Canada. A veteran prosecutor, Mitch introduced the first DNA evidence used in a criminal trial in Denver. The DNA Resource Section at the Denver DA’s website became a resource for people interested in forensic DNA throughout the world.

Mitch spearheaded the Denver Cold Case Project, which reviewed over 4,200 unsolved sexual assaults and murders using DNA technologies to solve old cases. In addition, Mitch and the Denver Police Crime Lab introduced the use of DNA to solve burglary cases and other property crimes. During his tenure as Denver District Attorney, Mitch became the leading proponent in the United States of using Familial DNA Database Searches to solve violent crime.

After leaving the Denver D.A.’s office in 2017, Mitch co-founded United Data Connect, which has become a leader in solving cold case murders and rapes using investigative genetic genealogy. Through a unique partnership with law enforce agencies across the county, United Data Connect has solved cold case murders and rapes, and has identified the remains of unidentified individuals. United Data Connect has also become a leader in training genealogist to conduct investigative genetic genealogy efficiently and effectively.

About the Owens-Early Fellowship

Named in honor of former Governor Bill Owens and Denver District Attorney Norm Early, the Fellowship will focus on an understanding the full economic and fiscal ramifications of policy choices in the areas of public safety and criminal justice.

Throughout his tenure in office, Governor Owens established a legacy of public safety and strived to make Colorado a safer place for our families and a less inviting place for predatory criminals. “The first priority of government is the safety of our citizens,” said Owens.

Likewise, DA Norm Early, Denver’s first Black district attorney was a champion for victim’s rights and largely credited as a pioneer for victims’ rights and a champion of safe streets for all people to thrive.

Fellows will develop original research and analysis to fulfill CSI’s mission of delivering facts and data to the policy challenges facing our state.  The Fellowship is a year-long commitment. CSI Fellowships represent a diversity of opinions, including all parts of the state and unique points of view.

 “I am honored to have my father’s name associated with a fellowship that will continue to recognize his legacy and pursuit of justice and victims’ rights,” said Kendall Early, son of the former DA. “My father valued diversity (in all forms), including diversity of thought and empowering and supporting those most marginalized. We are proud to have the Early name attached to this prestigious academic endeavor, which is a collaboration dedicated to improving the lives of Colorado’s citizens.”