Former Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown has a qualifying petition out to run in the May Democratic primary for District Attorney General.
The petition didn’t show up on the Shelby County Election Commission’s site over the weekend. But Dell Gill, a member of the Democratic executive committee and a candidate in the Democratic primary for Circuit Court Clerk, was circulating a qualifying petition for Brown at a weekend fundraiser for another candidate.
It’s not unusual for a delay in posting qualifying petitions to the Election Commission’s website.
Brown’s entry into the race would be the only opposition Republican incumbent Amy Weirich has in either party so far.
He has until the noon Feb. 20 filing deadline to make his decision.
Brown talked of entering the race last week at the monthly meeting of the local Democratic party’s executive committee.
“I haven’t quite made up my mind if I’m going to do this because I’ve got some business matters that I’ve got to wrap up and get secure,” Brown said then. “But I would love to do it.”
Brown’s syndicated court show, “Judge Joe Brown,” was cancelled by CBS Television Distribution last March ending a 15-year run as the second highest-rated court show on television. The cancellation came as Brown and CBS were in stalled contract renewal negotiations.
The Hollywood Reporter reported last year that Brown was in talks with Entertainment Studios to continue the show.
Brown’s speech to Democrats Thursday, Feb. 6, was an attack on policies in the prosecutor’s office as well as in Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court. Brown said Democrats needed to field a challenger to Weirich in the August general elections.
“This is not a white nor black issue,” Brown said. “It’s a matter of does that office need to be responsive to the ordinary people of this county so there is justice for all instead of just country club justice.”
Brown alleged that drug prosecutions “depend upon where you happen to be found.”
“If you live in a trailer park in Millington, you are not getting the same thing you get in Germantown,” he added. “If you live in North Memphis or South Memphis you don’t get the same thing either.”
He also criticized Weirich for not going beyond a Tennessee Supreme Court censure of assistant District Attorney Tom Henderson. Henderson was censured by the court for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence in a murder trial after Criminal Court Judge James Beasley ordered a retrial for defendant Michael Rimmer based on ineffective legal counsel for Rimmer at his first trial. Beasley was also critical of Henderson’s failure to disclose evidence about two other possible suspects.
Weirich recused her office from handling the retrial but has also defended Henderson.
“At no time … did Mr. Henderson suppress evidence,” she said in January as she announced her office is seeking a special prosecutor to handle the Rimmer case. “It is irresponsible to suggest or imply otherwise for the purposes of generating publicity or for political gain. These are serious matters.”
Weirich removed Henderson as prosecutor on the case before the censure by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility and after the censure said the censure and its financial penalties as well as his removal from the case were “punishment in and of itself.”