Denis McInerney, 2024 Zero Tolerance Honoree

Every year, at our Zero Tolerance Benefit, Sanctuary for Families honors those who have significantly contributed to the movement to end gender-based violence. This year, we are thrilled to present the 2024 Zero Tolerance Award to Denis McInerney, Senior Counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.


Denis McInerney is a Senior Counsel in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department. In addition to his 27 years in Davis Polk’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Group, he has held a wide variety of positions as a federal prosecutor, including Chief of the Fraud Section and Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Associate Independent Counsel in the Whitewater Investigation.

Mr. McInerney first joined Sanctuary’s Board in 2005 and served until 2010, when he stepped down to return to the Department of Justice. Upon his return to Davis Polk, he re-joined Sanctuary’s Board in 2015. Having served on a variety of Sanctuary Board committees over the years, including Audit (Chair), Development (Co-Chair), Finance, Nominating, and Program, Mr. McInerney became President of the Board in 2019. In addition to his work on Sanctuary’s Board, Mr. McInerney has devoted much of his time since 2019 representing incarcerated domestic violence survivors in clemency petitions and applications to be resentenced pursuant to New York’s newly enacted Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, often in partnership with Sanctuary’s Incarcerated Gender Violence Survivor’s Initiative. To date, Mr. McInerney and his teams have succeeded in approximately 15 of these cases, often after having persuaded the prosecutors to join in the applications. Mr. McInerney views these cases, in which he and his teams have had the privilege of greeting their clients as they walk out of prison as a result of the teams’ efforts, as the most moving and meaningful cases of his career.