With early voting for the August 7th election having now entered its second week, Judge Joe Brown says his “Law and Order” grassroots campaign will continue to zero in on the record of incumbent Shelby County Dist. Atty. Amy Weirich.
That record, according to Brown, includes “Amy’s 8 Dirty Little Secrets She Does Not Want The Voters To Know.” Last week, Brown and his campaign alerted the media to those “Little Secrets” – eight cases they point to as instances in which Weirich’s performance was severely criticized by the presiding judges.
Here are the case references as distributed by Brown’s campaign:
State v Sanlin (Tenn. Crim. App. May 6, 2005): The Court held that then-ADA Weirich’s calling a co-defendant as a witness knowing he asserted his 5th amendment rights and her statements that (he) was afraid to testify, created adverse inferences to enhance her case, unfairly prejudicing defendant, raising Sixth Amendment concerns that violated the defendant’s right to confrontation of witnesses. She also made several other improper comments in closing argument; the conviction was therefore reversed.
State v Coleman (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov 7, 2002): Then-ADA Weirich concealed an oral statement made by defendant Williams to police until the trial date forcing the court to grant a continuance. Then she “improperly” told the jury about a redacted portion of the co-defendant’s statement which implicated Williams and which had been order(ed) inadmissible at trial.
Roe v State (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 20, 2002): The Brady materials then-ADA Weirich withheld from defendant, that a witness against defendant had signed a movie contract concerning the case, was improper although not influencing the verdict.
State v Bond (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 20, 2006): Then-ADA Weirich blamed the defendant for the jury’s experiences in trial and sequestration. The appellate … found the “remark was Improper…the comments should not have been made” and stated that prosecutors should refrain from any argument which might divert the jury from its duty to decide the case only on the evidence.
State v Thomas (Tenn. 2005): Then-ADA Weirich’s use (of) twin epithets “greed and evil” to characterize the defendants was unseemly and improper.
State v Talley (Tenn. Crim. App. October 16, 2006), appeal denied (March 19, 2007): Finding that “It is evident that the prosecutor’s comments were improper in that they were designed to inflame the passions and prejudices of the jury” when the ADA Weirich again used the epithets “hatred, vengeance, and evil” to characterize the defendants in “clear disregard for long standing precedent.”
State v Odom (Tenn. 2004): Then-ADA Weirich introduced detailed inadmissible evidence of facts underlying defendant’s prior felony convictions to enhance the effect of aggravating circumstances beyond the statutory limits required reversal and remand for re-sentencing due to prejudice.
State v Culbreath (Tenn. 2000): Conflict of interest and resulting misconduct permeated the entire prosecution of this case, rendered the entire proceedings inherently improper and, as a whole, fundamentally unfair such that dismissal of the indictments was the appropriate remedy to redress the constitutional error.
Brown has said the cases speak for themselves.
“The record does not lie. The (Tennessee) Supreme Court cited her for failing to disclose personal interest and conflict of interest, and in another case she concealed evidence, created evidence and made prejudicial remarks to the jury that caused not just the reversal of the conviction but to dismiss the indictment. These cases go back to 2002 and continue to 2008. It is not a matter of inexperience. She started (as a prosecutor) in 1994. It is absolutely relevant,” said Brown.
The New Tri-State Defender this week asked Lang Wiseman, Weirich’s campaign chairman, for a case-by-case response. Wiseman said the TSD’s deadline did not allow adequate time for such a response. He reiterated and amplified on his earlier statements regarding the assertions by the Brown campaign.
“Most of these cases don’t even involve Amy Weirich, and the ones that do are taken out of their appropriate context,” said Wiseman.
“An appellate court’s ruling on an evidentiary matter is hardly a comment on, or even reflective of, any ethical issues for either the lawyer or the trial judge involved, and it is irresponsible and misleading for Mr. Brown to purposefully confuse those issues by taking quotes out of context. As a former trial judge, Mr. Brown knows better.”
Wiseman said Weirich has “an unblemished record of professional integrity, and this can be easily confirmed by a simple search of the website of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility that regulates Tennessee attorneys.”
Brown’s focus on Weirich’s record also includes her handling of the matter involving assistant D.A. Thomas Henderson, who was censored by the Tennessee Supreme Court for suppressing exculpatory evidence in a death-penalty case.
“The public becomes outraged when it learns that (assistant D.A.) Henderson put a man on death row, and she stated that his (Henderson) being caught was sufficient punishment,” said Brown.
“These cases prove she has a very specific lack of character and a lack of fundamental honesty. If she will deal with lying and cheating to get a conviction that she should not have gotten, think about what she has gotten away with that no one’s caught.”
At a press conference in January (2014) following Henderson’s censure, Weirich told the media that Henderson’s action was “human error” and that the public slap on the hand and accompanying $1,745.07 fine was enough.
No so, Brown insists.
Brown is also challenging Weirich relative to what he said are the 100,000 misdemeanors and 10,000 felonies that go through the courts each year.
“She claims to intend to take all of them to trial. There are only 10 divisions of Criminal Court. If these courts tried one case per week, and they often last more than one week, that would average about 52 cases per year, which equals about 500 cases per year,” Brown said. “Can you see how backed up the courts will become?”
What would he do differently?
“Have a training program for the assistants, which she does not have. Streamline the system, and most importantly, the buck stops with me, not some scapegoat,” said Brown.
“You need some input from the community and participation in programs to prevent crimes, but not run them from a remote position because she’s too scared to go to these communities where they are being affected by crime,” Brown added.
“I have better knowledge of how the system works, 20 years more experience, and have been on the bench in Criminal Court, which gives you a very unique perspective of what needs to be done to prosecute a case.”