For more than 20 years, I have had the privilege of calling Nels C. Moss, Jr. my friend. I met him as a new misdemeanor attorney when I first started at the Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) in 1994. Although Nels retired from the CAO prior to my election, Nels was a skilled, respected prosecutor who was assigned many of the most challenging and important cases.
He removed some of the most dangerous criminals from our streets by holding them accountable for breaking the law. While I never served as opposing counsel, judge or jury during one of Nels’ trials, I watched many as a spectator and student over the years. He was considered a tough and fair prosecutor, with strong personal conviction and a commitment to doing what he thought was right.
Over the course of his long career, Nels worked with hundreds of victims and their families and helped them work through the most tragic time in their lives as a fierce and relentless advocate for justice. Nels was a relentless advocate for the rights of the accused and held the police to the highest standards to ensure the right person was charged with the right crime. These types of life-changing interactions never made the front page of the newspaper, yet they are an important part of Nels' body of work.
To me, more than anything else, Nels was my very good friend. He had a kind heart, a wicked sense of humor and he was fiercely loyal. He was remarkably handy as well. When I faced a broken garbage disposal, Nels was there to fix it. When I stupidly ran out of gas on the highway, Nels rescued me from the side of the road. He was a great advisor, mentor and coach. Through some of my most challenging times, both personally and professionally, Nels was there to support me.
Nels was an imperfect being, just like each of us. Yet he positively impacted so many people in too many ways to explain over the course of his life. I will remember Nels with the utmost love and respect. And I’m confident there will be thousands of people in St. Louis who will do just the same.
Jennifer M. Joyce
City of St. Louis