Prosecutor to investigate complaints against Shelby County Clerk

Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - An independent prosecutor has been appointed to investigate complaints against the Shelby County clerk’s office.

This investigation includes the possibility of either removing Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert from office or clearing her of any mismanagement.

The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announcing Thursday, an investigation is underway after “numerous complaints”

For more than a year, you’ve seen and heard the stories about long lines and wait times and ongoing issues at the Shelby County Clerk’s Office.

Judge Chris Craft made the order Thursday, after the county attorney’s office asked for the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office to begin an investigation.

The Shelby County DA’s office says an independent prosecutor will conduct the investigation “to avoid any conflicts of interest or appearance of impropriety.”

Hamilton County Republican District Attorneys General Coty Wamp will handle the investigation into possible removal proceedings.

“All of the issues that we have have not even been her staff’s problem, it’s been the leadership’s problem,” said Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright. “It’s been about a failure to communicate, a failure to do the basic duties of the job.”

Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright, a vocal critic of Halbert believes the investigation is a long time coming.

“To see this finally come about is a big relief to me, but more importantly it’s a relief to the citizens,” said Wright. “It’s the citizens who have been hurt most by this situation and it’s the public confidence that needs to be restored.”

Clerk Wanda Halbert has ongoing problems plaguing her office on a lack of resources, lack of manpower and the extra workload that came with Tennessee issuing new license plates for the first time in nearly a decade.

“We have got to raise the salaries in the Shelby County Clerk’s office,” said Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert. “We’re not even given a living wage. And that’s a challenge. We perform 135,137 different transactions.”

But those problems have caused real consequences for drivers.

An Action News 5 investigation found Memphis Police pulled over a record number of drivers for expired tags in 2022.

More than 23,000 drivers received tickets, nearly 80% of them were Black.

Action News 5 reached out to Clerk Halbert about the Hamilton County DA’s investigation, we have not heard back.

We also reached out to DA Wamp’s office, we were told she has been in trial all day and wouldn’t hear from her until Friday morning.

Poplar Plaza lease expires June 30th

Action News 5 also checked in with Clerk Halbert earlier today on the status of Poplar Plaza location’s lease.

It’s set to expire Friday, June 30th.

Halbert says plans between management are being finalized and the office a this location will continue to be open until a “different decision is made”

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