Dana Nessel was sworn in as Michigan’s 54th Attorney General in 2019. She is the second openly LGBTQ Attorney General in the United States.
Nessel began her legal career as an Assistant Prosecutor in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. For more than a decade, she was assigned to a number of elite units within the office and handled some of Wayne County’s most difficult cases in the Child & Family Abuse Bureau, Police Conduct Review Team, and Auto Theft Unit. Nessel was specially assigned to try homicide, arson, criminal sexual conduct and gang-related conspiracy cases, among many others.
In 2005, Nessel left the Prosecutor’s Office to open her own legal firm. In her criminal practice, she vigorously defended the rights of indigent defendants on hundreds of criminal cases, from petty theft to first degree murder. She also handled civil rights actions for plaintiffs against police departments and government agencies that have committed transgressions against community residents. Nessel has petitioned courts across Michigan on behalf of dozens of victims of domestic violence who sought Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) against their abusers. She has also handled a myriad of other disciplines, ranging from family law, probate matters, and driver license restoration cases.
Nessel is also recognized as one of the premier litigators of LGBTQ issues in Michigan. In 2010, she brought the matter of Harmon v. Davis, in which a Michigan court, for the first time, held that a non-biological parent in a same-sex couple could establish custodial rights to the couple’s children. Nessel also successfully petitioned for the first second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples in Oakland and Wayne Counties. She has defended and acquired exonerations for scores of defendants wrongly targeted for prosecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity and have represented various clients terminated from employment based upon those classifications.