Teresa Hensley served for 10 years as the elected Cass County prosecutor, where she helped build coalitions to address problems ranging from drunken driving and domestic violence to fire prevention. She is now back in private practice.
What are some of your proudest career accomplishments? As the elected Cass County Prosecutor, I am very proud of the conviction record in the Cass County Prosecutor’s office in the ten years that I was there. We had 22 murder convictions along with over 100 felony domestic assaults convictions, over 200 child sex crime convictions, and over 6,000 felony convictions. I am very proud of the team I was able to put together during that ten years. Throughout the years we had a very dedicated and hardworking group of people that were heroic on a daily basis.
What has been your favorite part of the job?My favorite part of being the elected prosecutor was working with people — my staff daily, victims and victim families that we served, the public and my opportunity to give safety presentations to students, civic organizations, and women of all ages, to the agencies that I worked with and the trainings we put together, and with my local press who were genuinely interested in the justice system. I was blessed to be in a position to serve victims, seek best practices and to seek justice fairly. I was able to do so because of a dedicated staff.
What is something that would surprise people about you?That I have given up my fast food and now enjoy reading and learning more about health and wellness. Wellness has become an obsession and I no longer eat my beloved french fries and ice cream.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given or received?I was able to pass on to my assistant prosecutors the advice I learned from former Clay County Prosecutor Bill Brandom. It is as important in the prosecutor’s office what you don’t file as it is what you do file. It is important that you are able to pull any file you had worked on and state your reasons for your actions and know that you did the best you could do on that case. The prosecutor’s office is about always seeking to use good judgment and fairness at every step. Prosecutors are only effective if they are completely prepared in every aspect of their file and every stage of the process. My staff always gave everything they had to be prepared and I was very proud of them and their work.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?I knew when I was in seventh grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew in college after being around Bill Brandom and the lawyers in Clay County, including my husband Kenny Hensley, that I wanted to be a prosecutor.