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VOL. 126 | NO. 13 | Thursday, January 20, 2011

New DA Weirich Ready to ‘Roll Up Sleeves’

By Andy Meek

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Newly sworn-in Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich has spent 20 years in courtrooms trying all manner of cases.

However, a few hours after Criminal Court Judge Bobby Carter administered the oath of office to her in a private ceremony Tuesday, the woman praised by her predecessor Bill Gibbons for having a “tough but fair temperament” was modest about what comes next.

Weirich, the first female tapped as the county’s chief prosecutor, said her immediate focus is “rolling up her sleeves” and getting to know the details of the job, the office and the people who work with her and for her.

That includes plotting what direction she’ll take an office whose influence has grown considerably in recent years and is one of many partners in the county’s overall anti-crime strategy.

She also is not hesitant about sending a message to slipshod property owners, gang members, drug offenders, and owners of apartment complexes, motels and strip clubs that are determined to represent a public nuisance.

“If businesses cannot conduct themselves in a way that comports with the laws of the state of Tennessee, we’re going to do something about it,” Weirich said, adding that the same goes for individuals.

“If there are problems in neighborhoods with drug houses, and kids don’t feel safe walking home from school by themselves, and mom and dad don’t feel safe letting their kids walk home from school by themselves because of the drug dealer on the corner – we’re going to be there. At the end of the day, it’s about us feeling safe in our community.”

Though she’s already been sworn in officially, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will host a public swearing-in ceremony for Weirich 4:30 p.m. Jan. 27 in the Memphis City Council chambers.

From an official standpoint, though, she’s already in position to start leaving her mark on an office staffed by a majority of attorneys personally picked and hired by Gibbons, who’s now working for Haslam as the state’s commissioner of public safety and homeland security.

“My immediate priorities are to keep the office functioning as smoothly and seamlessly as we can during this transition period,” Weirich said. “Everybody around me will keep on doing the great work they’re doing.”

Gibbons picked her to be his Deputy District Attorney late last year, which put her in line for her current job, because he said she is “smart and demonstrates good judgment, she is well organized (and) has an exceptional work ethic.”

Traits no doubt honed amid her years in the courtroom representing the county and working to sway a small handful of people in a jury box. Moments like those were what attracted her to a career in law and arguably prepared her for a job that now requires her to wow a new jury – voters – in 2012.

“I love the fact that no two days in this office are the same,” she said. “You never know, from moment to moment, what’s going to land in your lap or what phone call you’re going to get.”

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 52 151
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751
BANKRUPTCIES 37 157 618
BUSINESS LICENSES 12 77 276
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0