The Tennessee district attorney and judge involved in Pamela Moses’ voting fraud conviction are facing what many call karma after dropping the hammer on the Black woman for the state’s error.
District Attorney General Amy Weirich, a Republican, lost her reelection bid to her Democratic challenger, and Criminal Court Judge Mark Ward was unseated on Aug. 4. Weirich prosecuted Moses after she tried to register to vote in 2019 after receiving the green light from a probation officer. Weirich reportedly withheld the evidence from Moses’ defense lawyer and argued that the woman who had been previously convicted for other crimes registered illegally on purpose. Ward sentenced Moses in January to more than six years in prison as a result.
A Tennessee Department of Corrections internal email found by The Guardian showed that officials were aware of the error. Ward overturned Moses’ conviction in late February, and Weirich dropped the charges in April. Weirich did not apologize to Moses; instead said the 82 days Moses spent incarcerated were sufficient. Moses, a Black Lives Matter activist, said her conviction was a “scare tactic” to stop other people who have been convicted of crimes from voting.
“Amy Weirich is the right-wing Republican slime who got Pamela Moses, a Black woman sentenced to 6 years in prison for ‘registering to vote,'” Twitter user @JeffDuPas wrote. “Thank you, Memphis, for voting this racist prosecutor out.”
Former convicted felons can get their voting rights restored in Tennessee, but Moses’ tampering with evidence charge is an offense that permanently bans a person from voting in the state. Moses said she was unaware of the exception when she went to the probation office to get the required clearance document to register. A manager there told Moses her probation was over and gave her the certified form. Moses was convicted for perjury on a registration form in November and sentenced on Jan. 31.
Ward accused Moses of tricking probation officials into giving her the document. His opponent defeated him by just 167 votes. Democrat Steve Mulroy beat Weirich 56 percent to 44 percent. Weirich was first elected district attorney in 2011. Criminal justice reformists in Memphis believe the changing of the guard will bring positive changes to the judicial system.
Shelby County faced scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the rights of Black children between 2012 and 2018. Federal investigators said they found the district attorney’s policies were a “toxic combination for African-American youth.”
Criminal justice advocates have also criticized Weirich’s office for trying juveniles as adults, using cash bail and the lack of diversity among staff.
“Do you remember the DA who prosecuted and secured a six-year sentence for Pamela Moses, the Black woman for registering to vote? Well, she just LOST her reelection bid tonight,” wrote New York City Public Defender Eliza Orlins in a viral tweet. “So PSA for you disgusting, unethical prosecutors: you’re on notice.”