Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Henri Brooks' Sentencing Overturned, Second Diversion Request to Follow

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge Attorneys Michael Ryan Working and Andre Wharton of the Wharton Law Firm say that a second motion for diversion will be filed on behalf of former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks. - MICAELA WATTS
  • Micaela Watts
  • Attorneys Michael Ryan Working and Andre Wharton of the Wharton Law Firm say that a second motion for diversion will be filed on behalf of former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks.

Former Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks won an appeal yesterday from the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals for falsifying an election document that misstated her home address.

In 2014, Brooks was popped by county officials for living outside of her district. After this controversy, Brooks left her post on the Shelby County Commission and, then, lost a bid for Juvenile Court Clerk. She pleaded guilty to the charge in 2015.

Attorneys working for Brooks announced Tuesday that she had won an appeal that reversed her original sentencing in the matter, two years probation and 80 hours of community service.

André Wharton, one of Brooks' attorney, said that, if anything, the reversal is a sign of a healthy criminal justice system in the state of Tennessee, since the appeals court was able to conclude that matters irrelevant to the case ultimately, and wrongfully influenced the court's decision.

"What this shows," said Wharton, "is that we still have a system that works. It worked in this instance. And I would encourage everybody not to give up on our justice system. Challenge it, but do so in a respectful fashion."

Central to the appeal was Brooks' claim that two events — remarks made to a Hispanic man concerning diversity in contracts at a commission meeting and a dismissed assault charge stemming from Brooks allegedly throwing water on a woman — actually had no bearing on the crime. However, those events became a focal point during her original sentencing hearing.

Brooks, who entered an Alford plea of guilty to a felony charge of making a false entry on an election document was not present Tuesday as her lawyers discussed the the implications of the court's reversal of the decision to deny Brooks diversion.

For now, Brooks' sentencing has been set aside until her lawyers can submit a second request for the diversion of Brooks' sentence. If diversion is granted, Brooks original sentence would be thrown out. The Alford plea would still stand. If Brook's is granted diversion, then her lawyers will move to have her conviction expunged.

"In yesterday's opinion, the court essentially ruled that some outside factors from Commissioner Brooks' years of public service in the community came into the court and clouded the trial court's judgement," said Michael Ryan Working, one of Brooks' attorneys, who added that if diversion is granted, the former commissioner would have a chance to have her record expunged.

"The next step will be to determine whether or not the special prosecutor decides to agree on diversion, or whether we will have a new sentencing hearing," said Working.

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