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Report: Weirich's Office First in State for Misconduct
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Leroy N. Soetoro
2017-08-01 18:11:40 UTC
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https://www.memphisflyer.com/NewsBlog/archives/2017/07/13/report-weirichs-
office-first-in-state-for-misconduct

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.”

“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.” — Amy Weirich Shelby County District Attorney General
click to tweet

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.”

“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.” — Josh Spickler, Just City
click to tweet

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.

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.

click to tweet

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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Rudy Canoza
2017-08-01 18:16:38 UTC
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Raw Message
Post by Leroy N. Soetoro
https://www.memphisflyer.com/NewsBlog/archives/2017/07/13/report-weirichs-
office-first-in-state-for-misconduct
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.
Very interesting, and coincidentally, there is a great story in the New
York Times today about Weirich's misconduct that led to a woman serving
nine years in prison for a crime she almost certainly didn't commit.
Weirich's deputy withheld a crucial piece of information from the defense.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/magazine/she-was-convicted-of-killing-her-mother-prosecutors-withheld-the-evidence-that-would-have-freed-her.html

This story is a perfect example of what makes the Times such a great
newspaper.
Post by Leroy N. Soetoro
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.”
“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.” — Amy Weirich Shelby County District Attorney General
click to tweet
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.”
“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.” — Josh Spickler, Just City
click to tweet
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.
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.
click to tweet
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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