Shelby DA asks judge to step aside in more than 200 cases

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich has called on Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett to recuse herself from more than 200 cases, reports the Commercial Appeal. A defense attorney, Michael Working, has now filed a motion asking for recusal of Weirrich’s office from handling cases in the court – creating a “chaotic” situation in Blackett’s courtroom Thursday.

About 60 people waited in the courtroom just before noon during a recess. (The judge) told lawyers variously that “I can’t sign anything at this time,” and “I can’t do anything.”

(Working) wrote in a motion this week that the “total disqualification from all pending matters of the only African-American woman serving as a Criminal Court Judge in a community that is approximately two-thirds African-American would appear to be an especially egregious deprivation of democracy by dismissing the people’s elected representative on the bench.”

In June, Blackett granted a new trial in the case of Collierville High School teacher Michael Halliburton who was convicted of attempting to kill his wife. The jury in that case commented on the “conduct of counsel” during the trial, she said…. The Court of Criminal Appeals overturned her decision to grant a new trial and Halliburton was sentenced to 21 years Monday by Judge Bobby Carter.

…(In the appeals court decision, Judge Alan Glenn wrote that Blackett’s “conduct after hearing comments from the jury in the case could reasonably be viewed “as evidencing a personal bias or prejudice against members of the staff of the Shelby County District Attorney General,” but that a recusal from all cases prosecuted by Weirich’s office “would be an impossibility.”

Weirich asked Blackett to recuse herself from the cases on her docket saying her impartiality “might reasonably be questioned.”