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Shelby County district attorney’s race heats up over diversity

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County District’s Attorney General’s race is heating up with one candidate, University of Memphis law professor Steve Mulroy, accusing the incumbent district attorney, Amy Weirich, of lacking diversity in her office.

Weirich responded by calling Mulroy’s data false and accusing him of being hypocritical.

“It’s kind of ironic that the white male running against three female candidates is going to bring up the issue of diversity,” said Weirich.

Mulroy held a press conference Tuesday and criticized Weirich for a lack of diversity in her office.

“I have been concerned for some time, for a long time, about the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the District Attorney’s Office,” said Mulroy.

Mulroy shared data he says he got from the county and from interviewing former employees of the D.A.’s office showing that of 148 employees in the D.A.’s office, only 30% are Black.

He also said only 10% of the attorneys who have the power to make charging decisions are Black.

“We want the people that deal with both the victims and the accused to have a sense that there are enough people in that office with similar backgrounds and experience that they can empathize with what they are doing and understand what they are going through,” said Mulroy. “The current incumbent has had many years to do something about it. She’s failed to do so.”

On Wednesday, Action News 5 asked Weirich about Mulroy’s accusations.

“Well, first of all, his data is incorrect,” Weirich said. “We have 223 employees and we have a minority percentage of 31%. As the first female District Attorney in Shelby County, it’s been a goal of mine since I was first elected and I’m very proud of the increases that we have made. More minorities hold supervisory positions in our office right now than ever before.”

Weirich says it’s hard competing against major corporations and other cities who can pay more.

“But we do a very good job I think of recruiting but it is a daily goal of ours,” said Weirich. “But again, the data is wrong that he distributed, so that’s concerning, but it’s not surprising given that his whole campaign is centered around false data and releasing more dangerous criminals from jail.”

Action News 5 also reached out to the other two candidates in this race, Janika White and Linda Harris who are both Black female Democrats, but did not hear back on Wednesday.

Weirich is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

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