Anyone who breaks the law must be held accountable, Steve Mulroy said Thursday.
And that, he said, includes law enforcement.
“If you have a prosecutor who withholds evidence and breaks other rules and gets convictions overturned time and time again, then she must also be held accountable, not only by the courts, but by the voters of this county,” said Mulroy.
Mulroy was referring to Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, who in 2017 received a private reprimand from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility.
On Thursday, Mulroy announced he was entering the district attorney race, seeking the Democratic nomination for the role. Weirich, a Republican, is seeking re-election to the post she has held since her appointment in 2011 by then-governor Bill Haslam. She was then elected in 2012 to serve the remaining two years in office, then elected to a full eight-year term in 2014.
In his announcement Thursday, Mulroy, flanked by current and former elected officials, gave a scathing speech berating Weirich’s tenure.
The policies that have been pursued over the past 11 years do not make Shelby County any safer, Mulroy said.
“If, year after year, we pursue racially disproportionate policies of mass incarceration that end up making the very people we are meant to serve, the very people we are meant to help, the very communities that are themselves victims of disproportionately crimes, distrust of the process and the system, it also makes us less safe, ”he said.
Mulroy has been a member of the University of Memphis Law School since 2000, teaching constitutional law, criminal law, criminal procedure, civil rights and electoral law, according to the school’s website. He is a former civil rights attorney for the US Department of Justice and a former federal prosecutor. According to his biography at the University of Memphis, he has tried a number of voting rights cases that have gone to the Supreme Court, multi-million dollar discrimination and redlining cases, as well as criminal cases before federal district courts and US circuit appellate courts. ‘ website.
From 2006 to 2014, Mulroy was Shelby County Commissioner. He served on the board of directors of the Memphis Bar Association.
In his speech, Mulroy said children shouldn’t be tried like adults, a frequent criticism of Weirich and something Mulroy called “the general rule here in Shelby County.” Of the children transferred to adult court, 90% in Shelby County are black.
He also said he believed that people who had not been convicted should not “languish in jail for the sole reason that they cannot afford a cash bond.”
He would support the creation of a conviction review unit, something that exists in Nashville but has not received local support from Weirich.
And, Mulroy said he didn’t think there should be “endless opposition” to DNA testing.
“What we need is to be tough on violent crime, but smart and compassionate on non-violent crime, teens and people who haven’t even been convicted of a crime,” he said. -he declares. “This is what I am offering to Shelby County as a District Lawyer candidate.”
Attorney Linda Harris, a mediator and independent dispute resolution adjudicator, who previously worked as a federal law clerk to the late United States District Court Judge Jerome Turner, a senior prosecutor to Western United States prosecutors, is also present in the Democratic primary with Mulroy. District of Tennessee and as a constitutional and civil rights lawyer in private practice. She also worked as a Memphis police officer.
The District Attorney General oversees a staff of 238, including more than 110 prosecutors.
Mulroy’s supporters included Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, former County Mayor Joe Ford, City Councilor Jeff Warren, Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn, former State Representative Johnnie Turner, the Former State Representative Jeanne Richardson, Shelby Van Turner County Commissioner, Shelby County Commissioner Reginald Milton, Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert and AFL-CIO Labor Council Chairman Irvin Callist.
Harris said Thursday that when people think of legal reform in Memphis and Shelby County, the first name that comes to mind is Steve Mulroy.
“He’s someone who is truly a leader in this community on all kinds of issues related to justice and fairness, a history of working with the Department of Justice as a professor, at the moment he’s harassing the Shelby County government to do a number of things better, including making sure that voting is accessible to everyone in this community, ”said Harris.“ He has been truly relentless and has truly been a powerful voice in this community. “
Katherine Burgess covers county government and religion. She can be reached at [email protected], 901-529-2799 or followed on Twitter @kathsburgess.