published Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Federal prosecutor designated for Chattanooga begins work

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A federal prosecutor funded by Chattanooga dollars went to work Monday.

Meredith Edwards, who previously worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Jose, Calif., now will report to Eastern District of Tennessee U.S. Attorney Bill Killian with specific jurisdiction over cases originating in the city.

The newly created position is part of Mayor Andy Berke's public safety initiative. Berke has vowed to lower shootings and overall crime throughout the city. He plans to roll out an anti-drug initiative next year, known as the High Point Initiative, that targets the most violent drug dealers. The mayor said a prosecutor designated for the city will be instrumental in the program's success.

"This allows us to impose the strictest federal punishments on our most violent offenders," Berke said in a previous statement.

Killian previously went on record stating the Chattanooga division of the Eastern District of the U.S. Attorney's Office is overloaded with cases. His office also is under a hiring freeze, and by the end of the year he expected to have three unfilled prosecutor positions.

The city stepped up to fund the position.

Hamilton County District Attorney's Office also has designated a prosecutor, Cameron Williams, to work with the federal office.

Edwards will make $60,000 per year. Her job description states she will be responsible for identifying investigations that would be best to prosecute in federal court. Officials are hopeful that those cases could lead to reducing violent crime in the city.

Edwards began working as a federal prosecutor last year. Before that she worked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins in San Francisco, Calif. and as a law clerk in the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Jose, Calif.

She graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2011.

The job description stated applicants must have a law degree and two years of work experience in criminal prosecution or criminal litigation.

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