Friday, July 21, 2017

MLGW Offers Special Program to Help Keep Customers' Utilities On

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 10:45 AM

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Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) is putting a program in place today to help its customers keep their utilities connected as heat waves move through Shelby County.

The Hazardous Weather Condition Impact Management Program allows residential customers whose utilities have been disconnected to pay $250 toward their outstanding balance plus a standard reconnection fee in order to have their utility services reconnected.

Customers currently without service, who opt to participate in the program must agree to a deferred payment plan for the remainder of their balance, which is to be paid within nine months.

However, customers' bills must be more than $250 and 25 percent of the money owed should be paid upfront.

The program is open to any customers who are currently without service or have high bills and want to avoid future disconnection.

Customers who wish to benefit from the program must register at one of MLGW's five community centers, which will have special weekend hours— 8:30 to 5:00 this Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tennessee Breaks Record for Student Aid Requests

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 2:02 PM

STATE OF TENNESSEE
  • State of Tennessee

A record-high number of high school seniors in Tennessee filed for federal student aid this year, leading the nation in filings for the third year in a row.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said Thursday that 73.5 percent of Tennessee high school seniors filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017-2018 academic year. Filling out the FAFSA is a requirement to get federal and state aid for post-secondary education, including Tennessee Promise and the HOPE Lottery Scholarship.

The figure is important as it shows the number of students planning additional education after high school. Haslam said it is a key indicator as the state pursues his Drive to 55 initiative, which aims to have 55 percent of Tennesseans with a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2025.

“First-time freshman enrollment in Tennessee has grown 13 percent in the past two years and more students than ever are going to college,” Haslams said in a statement. “As a state, we have invested in making college accessible and open to everyone and students are hearing the message.”

According to state figures, Tennessee leads the nation in FAFSA filings. The District of Columbia comes in second with a 64.8 percent, followed by Delaware (61.6%), New Jersey (61.0%), and Massachusetts (60.4%).

MLGW's Water Test Comes Back Clean

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 1:03 PM

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Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) found no detectable traces of arsenic or lead in drinking-water wells that are within two miles of wells where the Tennessee Valley Authority TVA recently found high levels of both toxins.

In May, the TVA discovered arsenic levels in some wells around its Allen Fossil Plant were more than 300 times higher than federal drinking water standards. Lead levels there were also higher than federal safety standards.

The contaminated water is a quarter mile from the TVA’s five new wells drilled into the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the source of Memphis’ drinking water. Those wells were approved by the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Board late last year and will pump water from the aquifer to cool a new natural gas energy plant that will soon replace the coal-burning Allen plant.

Last week, MLGW said it would test water from wells in the Davis well field, where it pumps drinking water, which is two miles from the contaminated TVA site. MLGW tested 10 wells there and also tested treated drinking water, which goes into MLGW’s distribution system.

“All wells and drinking water leaving the station tested below detected limits for arsenic,” reads and MLGW news released issued Thursday. Lead levels, too, were below detected limits, the utility said.

Leaders of local environmental groups said they “relieved” to find no contamination in the tests. However, they warn that “it could take decades” for those contaminants to seep into the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the source of Memphis drinking water.

That process, too, could be quickened when TVA begins pumping water from its five wells, said Ward Archer, president of Protect Our Aquifer.

“Common sense would suggest that operating five high-performance wells across the street from a leaking coal ash pond is not a good idea,” Archer said. “Again, we ask TVA to respect our drinking water aquifer and cool with grey water or with water supplied by MLGW.”

Scott Banbury, conservation program coordinator for the Sierra Club in Tennessee, said TVA should buy its water for the plant from MLGW until groundwater experts can conduct an “exhaustive study” of the geology under the TVA site and prove “without doubt, that there are no breaches in the Memphis Sand’s protective clay.”

“It’s time that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Board step in and ensure the protection of our drinking water by staying the well permits that have been issued to TVA until proven safe,” Banbury said. “We call on local leaders to do everything in their power to protect our aquifer.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

EDGE Says Yes to a 108-unit Residence at Madison and McLean

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 4:13 PM

FLEMING ARCHITECTS
  • Fleming Architects

The Economic Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE) board approved a 14-year residential pay-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive for a 108-unit multifamily residence to be built near Madison and McLean.

Fourteen million dollars will be invested into the 132,477 square-foot development, which is planned to occupy the block between McLean and Idlewild to the south of Madison.

The four-story building will be constructed on a podium, slightly raised with a 127-space parking lot below and an additional parking spots along Madison.

Per the terms of the PILOT, a little over $3 million has to be spent contracting City and county certified minority and women business enterprises.  

The group behind the project, Makowsky Ringel Greenberg, LLC, also the group proposing to construct the controversial Overton Gateway near Sam Cooper and East Parkway, says the new residence at McLean and Madison will target a diverse population of residents.

Approximately 22 of the 108 units will be available for low or moderate income occupants.

The group expects residents to be able to move in about 9 months after construction begins, which is set to commence late this year or early next.


New Vision Unveiled for Riverfront

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 11:30 AM




An elevated trail through the treetops, a boathouse on the Wolf River harbor, festival grounds, open air markets, a pedestrian bridge to Mud Island, and more are suggestions for the Memphis riverfront from Chicago-based Studio Gang.

The group was hired earlier this year by the Riverfront Development Corp. to survey the riverfront and devise a vision for what it could be. Studio Gang unveiled that vision in a Tuesday news conference.

To get there, the group took stock of the existing assets on the river, surveyed locals, talked with stakeholders close to the river, and reviewed the 11 riverfront plans that have been drawn up since 1987. Studio Gang looked at current planning projects like Memphis 3.0 and looked to the future of the riverfront for changes that could come from climate change and shifts in socioeconomics.

Overall, the plan seeks to connect five major existing assets on six miles of the riverfront — MLK Park, Tom Lee Park, Mud Island, the Fourth Bluff, and Greenbelt Park. The report said it hopes to foster civic pride, restore some of the natural conditions around the river, and connect the those pre-existing assets.

Here are some of the big suggestions Studio Gang has for those five major places along the river:

MLK Park
• Close the nine-hole goal course
• Build a dedicated festival grounds
• Connect South Parkway to McKellar Lake

Tom Lee Park
• Build an adventure park with a rock climbing wall
• Build a boardwalk that goes over the Mississippi River
• Build a Civil Rights History Loop, an interpretive walking trail from the park to the National civil Rights Museum
• Build pavilions for performance and pop-up markets
• Make Riverside Drive two lanes with spaces for parking, bikes, and pedestrians

Mud Island
• Set up areas for camping
• Partner with the University of Memphis to establish Eco Hub, a center for freshwater biology education
• Build pavilions and astronomy cones

Greenbelt Park
• Build a tall lookout at north end of Mud Island
* Build a canopy walk in the treetops in the park

Fourth Bluff
• Replace parking garage at Front and Monroe with a cultural amenity
• Establish Bluff Walk for people to shop, eat, and play
• Activate the Wolf River Harbor with shade, lookouts, and better walkability, including a bridge to Mud Island

But Alan Crone, special counsel to Mayor Jim Strickland, cautioned that the concept presented Tuesday was in no way set in stone. The plan is a set of options offered by Studio Gang. So, he warned against any Memphian looking at the pictures and arguing about their details.

“Studio Gang did not give us a plan but a starting point for community conversations to make the riverfront as great as the river is great,” Crone said.

He repeated Strickland’s pledge not to use any general fund money for the project. Instead, he said the city would be a partner in riverfront development along with philanthropy, business, and individuals.

Riverfront Development Corp. President Benny Lendermon said he and his board have worked constantly with Studio Gang over numerous visits. He said there exists now in Memphis a swell of support to agree on a plan for the riverfront and execute that plan.

The next step in the process will be for Mayor Jim Strickland’s Riverfront Task Force to closely review the concept and to choose what, if any, portion of the plan it wants to build.

Memphis Pets of the Week (July 20-26)

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 10:31 AM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Rape Kit Lawsuit Against City Moves Forward

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 1:21 PM

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A hearing for a lawsuit seeking answers about the amount of rape kits the City has left untested, Jane Doe v. the City of Memphis was held Tuesday in Judge Gina Higgins' circuit courtroom.

Plaintiff lawyer Daniel Lofton says his goal for the hearing was to get the City to tell the rest of the story.

He told Judge Higgins that he feels the City's attorneys have not been cooperating, neglecting to produce requested documents and other pieces of evidence necessary to move forward with the case.

Lofton asked the court to require the City to hand over internal audits, remedial plans in response to the audits, and rape kit statistics.

The attorney representing the City, Robert Meyers disagreed with Lofton's claims, arguing that the City has been doing its best to be cooperative.

However, Meyers says that because no class action has been certified yet and likely won't be, certain evidence that Lofton is seeking is outside the scope of the protective order previously made.

Furthermore, Meyers says the information that the plaintiff attorney is asking for is too broad and "unduly burdensome."

Lofton explained that there are over 12,000 untested rape kits, with only about a dozen convictions from those 12,000 cases. "That number speaks for itself," he said.

He reminded the judge, as well as the defense that the lawsuit is not about the circumstances of each individual rape, but rather about "adding insult to injury."

He said that he plans to prove through evidence that the City's standard of care in handling rape kits has not been up to par.

Tuesday was a win in court for the plaintiff side, according to Lofton, as Judge Higgins said the City cannot be immune to this case and that the plaintiff has the right to go forth.

Judge Higgins ruled that a special judge is to decide what evidence will be included in the case before the lawsuit proceeds.

The judge also told the attorneys that they should consider moving toward setting a date for trial.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cohen Wants Answers on Water Contamination

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 1:49 PM

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Ninth District Representative Steve Cohen wants more information from state officials on the discovery of high levels of arsenic and lead found near the Allen Fossil Plant.

In May, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) discovered arsenic levels in some wells around the energy plant were more than 300 times higher than federal drinking water standards. Lead levels there were also higher than federal safety standards.

The contaminated water is a quarter mile from the TVA’s five new wells drilled into the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the source of Memphis’ drinking water. Those wells will pump water from the aquifer to cool a new natural gas energy plant that will soon replace the coal-burning Allen plant.

Memphis Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) officials said the nearest drinking-water pumping station is two miles away from the Allen plant. Also, MLGW officials said they are testing the water around the pumping station to be sure wells there aren’t contaminated.

The toxins were found in wells drilled to monitor pollution from nearby ponds containing slag and ash generated by the plant's coal-burning activities. TVA officials reported the findings to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Since then, TVA, TDEC, and Memphis Light Gas & Water officials have said the high levels of toxins in the well likely won’t contaminate the city’s drinking water. Officials with the local branch of the Sierra Club and the Protect Our Aquifer group contend that the contamination could spread into the water source.

Cohen, in a letter to TDEC Commission Robert Martineau, said he was concerned about the findings and wanted to know how TDEC reached its conclusion that the contaminants are not impacting the water source. He also wanted to know what TVA and TDEC are doing to prevent drinking-water contamination and how they will ensure the Memphis Sand Aquifer remains a viable source of drinking water.

Ward Archer, president of Protect Our Aquifer, said his group suspected the water beneath the plant was contaminated “but this is even worse than we imagined.”

“TVA’s plan to pump Memphis Sand Aquifer water from beneath this contaminated site is irresponsible and endangers our drinking water supply,” said Archer in a Facebook post. “These contamination findings reinforce our commitment to encourage TVA to find an alternative cooling water solution, and we will continue to protect our drinking water aquifer by supporting scientific investigation, raising public awareness, working with our elected officials, and if necessary, initiating additional legal action.”

Ward Archer is a minority stockholder in Contemporary Media, Inc., the company that publishes the Memphis Flyer.

Local Group Says MLGW Should Honor Receipts Produced by Kiosk Glitch

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 12:28 PM

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One group in Memphis thinks Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) should honor the zero-balance receipts customers received on Saturday, July 8, during the time of a glitch on some 100 pay kiosks across the city.

In a Facebook post, the Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens (C3) explained that customers who were legitimately and sincerely led to believe that their balance was zero based on the official MLGW receipts that the machines produced should not be held accountable.

"Unknowing ratepayers should not have to pay for the errors, negligence, and/or purposeful trickery of Memphis, Light, Gas, and Water," the group posted on their Facebook page.

Therefore, C3 is "demanding" that the utility forgive current or overdue balances of the customers who were affected by the software glitch.

Acknowledging that that particular action might not be feasible, the group is also proposing that the utility should allow customers to utilize MLGW's 72-month grace period option, which would allow for the amount owed to be divided by 72 and paid along with customer's monthly bills over the course of 72 months.

Additionally, despite officials with the utility stating that there was no breech in MLGW's systems, as well as no customers' personal information being compromised at the time of the network glitch, C3 members are not convinced, claiming that utility companies are known to have the most vulnerable systems for an unauthorized system breach or hack.

C3, convinced that MLGW officials have not been completely honest with the public, is saying that some customers' personal information might have been breached and that the utility is responsible for paying any damages resulting from that.

With Demonstration, Local Group Urges Community to Avoid Walmart

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 11:22 AM

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Over the weekend, local members of Movimiento Cosecha held a demonstration at a Walmart on Winchester to rally against the corporation and how they feel the company's investments are hurting the immigrant and minoirty communities.

Cosecha Memphis, a group that organizes non-violent movements to fight for immigrant rights, spearheaded the protest on Saturday.

According to the group's Facebook page, the demonstration was meant to show Walmart that the immigrant community is aware of the company's investing in deportation, private detention centers, and the Correction Corporation of America.

Individuals with Cosecha, along with representatives from the Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens marched through the aisles of the store with signs and salsa music, urging customers and even employees to join their cause.

The group shouted remarks like, "Walmart is sickening our community" and "Walmart we know what you do," as well as warnings to the undocumented community that every time an individual shops at Walmart, they are "investing in their own deportation."

After about 15 minutes of demonstrating, and grabbing the attention of most customers and employees, with a little help from security, the group exited the store— but only to amp up their chants once they reached the parking lot.

Moving forward, Cosecha Memphis is encouraging the community to use their economic power and choose not to invest in Walmart for the sake of the immigrant community.

Friday, July 14, 2017

MLGW Tests Drinking Water Close to Contaminated Well

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 3:12 PM

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Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW) said it is testing the drinking water from a well closest to where the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) found ground water contaminated with arsenic and the utility expects those results back late next week.

High levels of arsenic and other toxins were recently discovered in ground water near TVA’s Allen Fossil Plant. That water is a little more than a quarter mile from five recently-drilled TVA wells that will provide cooling water for the agency's soon-to-be-completed gas-fired power plant.

Officials with TVA, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), and MLGW said the polluted water likely won’t contaminate the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the source of the city’s drinking water. But the local Sierra Club contends that it could.

MLGW said in a statement late Thursday that its Davis Water Pumping Station, from which the utility pumps drinking water, is two miles from the site where the TVA found the contaminated water.

“We do not expect to find elevated levels of arsenic in the water we pump from our wells,” reads the statement from MLGW. “We are having samples from our wells analyzed. We should have rust of that analysis late next week. MLGW is working closely with TDEC.”

Global Manufacturing Company Plans to Create 90 New Jobs in the County

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 12:48 PM

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An international company that manufactures electrical equipment is expanding to a new location in Memphis, investing upwards of $20 million and creating 90 new jobs here, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) announced Friday.

A member of the ABB Group, the company Thomas & Betts designs, manufactures, and markets products used for the connection, distribution, transmission, and reliability of electricity.

The company plans to expand its operations, as well as its research and development department to East Memphis.

Commissioner of TNECD Bob Rolfe says since 2011 the state's manufacturing field has gained over 46,000 jobs.

"I appreciate Thomas & Betts for continuing the momentum of the manufacturing sector in our state," Rolfe said. "I look forward to our continued partnership."

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell believes that adding 90 jobs to the corporate landscape of the city is significant and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland agrees.

"By choosing the city of Memphis as the place it believes it can best grow, Thomas & Betts is adding the momentum we're experiencing of late," Strickland said.

The move, though, is contingent on PILOT approval.

District Attorney General Weirich Targeted in New State Investigation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Braswell - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Braswell
A new state investigation of Shelby County District Attorney General (SCDAG) Amy Weirich has been opened related to her conduct in a 2005 murder trial, according to the defendant’s family, and they hope his race won’t hinder the investigation.

The family of Vern Braswell, who was convicted for the murder of his wife in 2005, filed a complaint with state officials last month against Weirich and her office on allegations of misconduct in his 2005 trial.

A Facebook page called Justice for Vern Braswell says an investigation into the matter was opened at the beginning of June. A family member confirmed Friday that the information on the page was correct.

But an official with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility (TBPR), the arm of the Tennessee Supreme Court that oversees attorney conduct in the state, could not confirm whether an investigation had been initiated or give any other details.

The Facebook post points out that the TBPR got involved in the cases of Noura Jackson and Michael Rimmer. Weirich got a private reprimand from the TBPR in the Jackson case. ADA Thomas Henderson got a public censure for his conduct in Rimmer case. Jackson and Rimmer are both white.

“We hope and pray that Vern's skin color doesn't preclude us from being successful in our complaint against DAG Weirich,” reads the post. “But if history has taught us anything, we cannot be too hopeful.”

It goes further to point out that Jackson and Rimmer were granted new trials and that the prosecutors faced consequences for their conduct. But that for Braswell, who is African American, no new trial has been granted so far and that no prosecutor has yet faced any consequences.

When asked for a statement on the new complaint, a spokesman in Weirich’s office said her statement from Thursday, in which a new report ranked Weirich’s office first in the state for prosecutorial misconduct, still stands.

Weirich
  • Weirich
“[The report] is a grossly inaccurate and incomplete account of these cases as seen through the eyes of a defense advocacy group,” Weirich said in a statement. “I became a prosecutor to hold the guilty accountable and to protect the innocent in every case, and that is what I have tried to do throughout my career. I will never apologize for trying to seek justice for victims of crime.”

Weirich prosecuted the case against Braswell, a former middle school principal, in 2005 and he was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He appealed the ruling in 2008 but was unsuccessful.

However, a defense attorney and a Shelby County prosecutor reviewing the case in 2011 found a sealed, manila envelope with a sticky note attached that read something close to “do not show to the defense” and Weirich’s initials, according to court testimony. Hiding evidence that could help a defendant’s case in court is illegal.

That envelope went missing. Asked in court about the mysterious envelope in 2014, Weirich said she couldn’t recall such an envelope and that it was not her practice to hide evidence.

That missing envelope is the centerpiece of the Braswell family’s new complaint against Weirich to TBPR. The complaint also claims other evidence helpful to Braswell’s case was withheld from his attorneys and that a key witness for the prosecution was “pressured to testify a certain way.”

The complaint says a TBPR investigation into the case and the SCDAG’s practices “would get to the bottom of this.”

“We believe the the integrity of the D.A.’s evidence files are of paramount importance to society as a whole and the entire criminal justice process as are the safeguards to ensure justice is being achieved in the proceedings that not only determine guilt, but that also clear the innocent,” reads the complaint.

Further, the complaint says case files should be shared before during, and after trials, that SCDAG attorneys should not be able to purge their files of evidence, and that prosecutors, too, should be held accountable “in the process of determining guilt and clearing the innocent.”

The very last sentence of the complaint underscores the hope against racial bias in the case.

“We hope and pray that Vern’s skin color does not stand as a bar to these matters being fully investigated from an unbiased perspective,” the complaint reads.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stormwater and Sewer Fees on MGLW Bills to Increase Starting in January

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:31 PM

Sewer in Memphis
  • Sewer in Memphis
There will be an increase on customers' Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) bills beginning January 1 to fund improvements to the city's stormwater and sewer systems.

The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to approve an increase of the stormwater and sewer fees that shows up on customers' monthly MLGW bills.

In January, stormwater fees will initially increase from $4.02 to $4.64 per unit, while the sewer fees will go from $2.27 to $2.87 per unit each month.

The plan is to continue to raise the fees in phases over the next five years, totalling an overall increase of 50 percent from the current costs.

After January, stormwater fees will see its next increase in July 2019, as the fee will raise to $5.25, and then finally to $6.03 in July 2022.

The next increase phase for sewer fees will not be until January 2020 when the fee will raise to $3.32.

At the end of the five year period, the Council says on average a customer will spend about $9 more each month— $108 more per year— on stormwater and sewer fees.

City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd says although he and other Council members realize the increase in fees will not be a "cost easily absorbed by every citizen," these increased rates are necessary to fund the more than $150 million in stormwater projects and finance over $872 million for the sewer system.

Report: Weirich's Office First in State for Misconduct

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 11:32 AM

Weirich
  • Weirich
Shelby County District Attorney General (SCDAG) Amy Weirich’s office ranks first in Tennessee for prosecutorial misconduct, according to a new report from a Harvard Law School group.

Weirich called the report “grossly inaccurate” and one that paints an “incomplete account of these cases.” But a local criminal justice advocate said the report was enough to call Weirich “one of the most problematic prosecutors in the entire country.”

From 2010 to 2015, the SCDAG office had the highest number of misconduct findings and the most overturned convictions in Tennessee, according to the report from the Fair Punishment Project.

The group “is helping to create a fair and accountable justice system through legal action, public discourse, and educational initiatives,” according to its website. The project is a joint initiative of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and its Criminal Justice Institute.

Most of the misconduct findings in Shelby County, of which the report says there are more than a dozen, come as Weirch and the attorneys in her office have failed to hand over relevant information to defense attorneys and have made inappropriate statements during trials.

“Leaders set the tone for an organization, and a look into Amy Weirich’s own record of misconduct, illustrates why Memphis cannot shake its misconduct problem,” the report reads.

For this, the report’s authors point mainly to Weirich’s conduct during the murder trial of Noura Jackson, noting that Weirich allegedly hid a statement from a key witness and violated Jackson’s constitutional right to silence in her closing argument.

Weirich faced public discipline last year from the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility for her conduct in the case but the charges against her were dismissed and she was issued a private reprimand.

“[The report] is a grossly inaccurate and incomplete account of these cases as seen through the eyes of a defense advocacy group,” Weirich said in a statement. “I became a prosecutor to hold the guilty accountable and to protect the innocent in every case, and that is what I have tried to do throughout my career. I will never apologize for trying to seek justice for victims of crime.”  Josh Spickler, the executive director with the Memphis-based criminal justice reform group Just City, said the misconduct findings in Weirich’s office were not isolated events or occasional instances of human error but “a pattern of misconduct, ethical violations, and inappropriate behavior.”

“In the six years since DAG Weirich’s appointment to this position, this amounts to more than just an appalling miscarriage of justice,” Spickler said. “Our criminal justice system has experienced significant delays and has spent millions of dollars as a result of this conduct. Victims and their families have been denied justice and the accused have spent years awaiting a fair determination of their guilt.”
The report focused on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in Tennessee, California, Louisiana, and Missouri. Those states were apparently chosen because of the media buzz surrounding high-profile cases and prosecutors in certain jurisdictions.

In New Orleans, DA Leon Cannizzaro repeatedly hid evidence, issued fake subpoenas and more, the report said. In Orange County, Calif. DA Tony Rackauckas’ office has faced scandals involving a secret jailhouse informant program, the suppression of evidence, and falsified testimony. In Missouri last year, Jennifer Joyce, the then-elected city of St. Louis prosecutor, defended a prosecutor in her office with 25 misconduct allegations, according to the report.

The report said that (adjusted for population) 89 percent of Tennessee counties had fewer findings of misconduct than Shelby County. Also, 94 percent of Tennessee had fewer misconduct-related conviction reversals than Shelby.
For Weirich, the report also pointed to a 2004 capital murder trial in which she called the co-defendants “greed and evil” 21 times in her opening and closing arguments. Weirich’s name calling earned her a rebuke from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals that reminded her that it “is improper for the prosecutor to use epithets to characterize a defendant” and called her argument “unseemly.” One of the two defendants got a new trial thanks to Weirich’s arguments, the report said.

The report also pointed to another 2004 murder case in which a prosecutor and a defense attorney found a manila envelope with a sticky note attached that read “do not show defense” and carried Weirich’s initials. The envelope vanished and in 2014 Weirich claimed she couldn’t recall it.

The report also spotlights the murder case of Andrew Thomas in which Weirich failed to report that a witness had been paid for her testimony. Weirich claimed that the witness was paid in a trial previous to her prosecution of the case.The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in the case.


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