Mulroy calls on Weirich to recuse herself from case against radio host

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 02, 2022 8:38 AM CT | Published: August 01, 2022 3:29 PM CT
<strong>Steve Mulroy</strong>

Steve Mulroy

Steve Mulroy, the Democratic nominee for District Attorney in Thursday’s election, is calling on opponent Amy Weirich, the current DA, to recuse herself from criminal charges her office is pursuing against a radio host who interviewed her last month.

Weirich, a Republican, spoke to local “shock jock” Thaddeus Matthews July 5, winning his endorsement during the middle of her hotly contested race against Mulroy. Some ethics experts told The Institute for Public Service Journalism she should not have spoken to a potential defendant in a case her office is handling. 

Weirich replied in a statement last week that she went on Matthews’ show solely to promote and explain Tennessee’s new “truth in sentencing” law, which ends the possibility of parole for people convicted of certain felonies. She added that such public outreach is part of her job.


Q&A with DA incumbent Amy Weirich


But Mulroy, during a press conference at his campaign headquarters Monday, said he believes the interview constitutes a conflict of interest under Tennessee’s professional responsibility rules for attorneys. Weirich denies any money changed hands.

Mulroy argued state rules also prohibit non-monetary benefits like campaign publicity and endorsements. He called on her to recuse herself from Matthews’ case before Thursday’s balloting.

“This is a clear conflict of interest,” Mulroy said. “Personal interest need not be financial.”

Weirich said in a statement Monday that she appeared on the show solely to discuss the truth in sentencing law and as DA, not as a candidate. 

“I appeared on Mr Matthew’s YouTube show to discuss the new Truth in Sentencing Law, and only to discuss the truth in sentencing law, in my official capacity as DA - as I have appeared on numerous programs including the podcast for this newspaper. There is no conflict since I have never paid Mr. Matthews or received a campaign contribution from him,” Weirich said.


Q&A with DA candidate Steve Mulroy


Matthews has a long history of legal trouble, including 14 felony and misdemeanor convictions. The DA’s office has most recently pursued him because of allegations brought by fellow radio host Towanna Murphy, who has accused him of harassment and violating a restraining order. He was arrested in connection with her allegations in January.

Mulroy said the case is fresh evidence of Weirich’s long “pattern of failing to take responsibility,” a recurring theme of his campaign. He pointed to a 2017 private reprimand from the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility as well as a 2016 case before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in which the court found Weirich has erroneously claimed law enforcement did not pay a key witness. 

Mulroy was joined Monday by City Council members Patrice Robinson and Jeff Warren, as well as Democratic state senate candidate Houston Wolf. 

Mulroy and Weirich’s contest is among the marquee races in the Thursday election, in which more than 86,000 early votes have been cast. Both candidates are seeking an eight-year term as Shelby County’s top prosecutor.

Topics

Steve Mulroy District Attorney Amy Weirich 2022 elections

Shera Avi-Yonah

Shera Avi-Yonah is an enterprise freelance intern for The Daily Memphian. She has previously reported for Bloomberg News and the American Prospect.


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