Weekly Update

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For many months now, I have written to you about the revolving door that has too often become our criminal justice system. Earlier this week, our office hand delivered the letter below to every Shelby County Criminal Court Judge, every Shelby County General Sessions Court Judge, and every Shelby County Judicial Commissioner, as well as a copy to the Shelby County District Attorney. You can see the language of the letter below.

 March 8, 2023


Dear Judges and Judicial Commissioners:

    Over the last year, I visited every shift of officers in the Memphis Police Department. One of their main frustrations is having to encounter and arrest the same individuals over and over. This frustration is shared by the public.

   During the last several months, I have spoken and written many times about the revolving door that is too often our current criminal justice system. For instance, see posts on August 5, 2022; December 16, 2022; November 11, 2022; October 14, 2022; April 8, 2022; and others at:


   Low Bonds: I believe that bonds are too often set far too low, which allows the system to resemble “catch and release.”

   To go a step further, those committing the crimes know that our bonds are too low. Recently, a man threatened to kidnap and torture another person and later hit an officer with his car. When a witness tried to tell the man, “It was not worth it,” the man confidently replied that he “had bail money.”

   Weak Sentences: Last year, I did a public record request. In Shelby County Criminal Court in 2021, there were 280 guilty verdicts involving only aggravated assault. Of those, 25 percent of them were granted judicial diversion or probation (no prison time), including the following:

  •  Defendant shot his roommate with a gun
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Defendant shot gun at victim and her child
  • Defendant stabbed victim
  • Defendant shot victim in the stomach

   A more recent example: On July 14, 2021, a man pulled a gun on a Memphis police officer, who took cover behind a tree. The man fired three shots at the officer, and fortunately, none of them struck the officer. The suspect was later arrested in August and charged with attempted first-degree murder and other charges.

   On December 7, 2022, a plea deal was reached, which the officer opposed, and the court approved it; the punishment was probation for eight years—no prison time.

   With respect to people who steal cars or break into cars, MPD arrested over 2,300 people in 2022 for these two crimes, and virtually all of them are currently back in the community. There is very little punishment or rehabilitation for those who commit these crimes.

   Our judicial system is broken. Because of lack of consequences, there is little deterrent effect on future actions of criminals.

   I ask you to have zero tolerance for gun crime. Also, I ask that you be transparent and open to the public.

   Currently, important public information, such as Bail Setting Forms and Judgments, are not available online and are only available if someone goes to the clerk’s office and requests these documents under a defendant’s name.

   I am asking you to post every Bail Setting Form and Judgment on a website, so it is easily accessible to the public. This can be done. City government posts every contract on its website.

   Also, the criminal court websites need to provide an easy mechanism for the public to express their opinions as to the decisions that are affecting their safety. At city hall, we have emails and telephone numbers for the public to use. I would ask that the judges and judicial commissioners offer an online portal for public comment.

   Thank you for your consideration.



Jim Strickland



Shelby County Criminal Court Judges:

Honorable Paula Skahan

Honorable Jennifer Fitzgerald

Honorable James Jones, Jr.

Honorable Carolyn Wade Blackett

Honorable Melissa Boyd

Honorable Carlyn Addison

Honorable David Pool

Honorable Lee Coffee

Honorable Chris Craft

Honorable Jennifer Mitchell

Shelby County General Session Criminal Judges:

Honorable Bill Anderson, Jr.

Honorable Lee Wilson

Honorable Sheila B. Renfroe

Honorable Greg Gilbert

Honorable Karen Massey

Honorable Ronald S. Lucchesi

Honorable Louis J. Montesi, Jr.

Honorable Christian R. Johnson

Judicial Commissioners:

Honorable Rhonda Harris

Honorable Robert Barber

Honorable John Marshall

Honorable Kevin Reed

Honorable Shayla Purifoy

Honorable Chris Ingram

Honorable Mischelle Alexander-Best

Honorable Ross Sampson

Honorable Serena Gray

Honorable Terita Hewlett

Honorable Kathy Kirk-Johnson

Honorable Zayid Saleem

Honorable Kenya Smith

Honorable Leslie Mozingo

District Attorney Steve Mulroy

I wanted to share this with you today for a couple reasons. One, to let you know we are not just sitting back and not working to find solutions to our crime challenge. And two, I wanted you to see the names of those who received the letter and what we are asking them to do. If we are going to tackle our crime challenge, it will take everyone working together to do it.

Thank you: Earlier this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee at the state Capitol, there were a series of bills dealing with the second amendment that would have been detrimental to cities across our state. One bill would have changed the word handgun to firearm meaning you could carry any type of gun (i.e., an automatic rifle) on your person. Another would have eliminated the prohibition of firearms at businesses and government buildings, and another would have lowered the age to legally carry a gun to 18 years old.

Three members of the committee who helped to defeat or further delay these bills are a part of our Shelby County delegation, and I wanted to publicly thank them for their votes—Senator Sara Kyle, Senator Paul Rose, and Senator Brent Taylor.

We have enough challenges dealing with gun violence. We cannot continue to weaken our gun laws and expect to see any meaningful reductions in violent crime.

What a team: Last Saturday night, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at a dinner honoring the 1972-1973 Memphis State Men’s Basketball team that played in the National Championship game. While I did not move to Memphis until 1977, I have heard and learned so much about that team over the last 45 years. Pictured below are the families of Larry Finch and Ronnie Robinson as well as Larry Kenon, Bill Laurie, and Bill Cook.


This team uplifted a beleaguered city—a city struggling to appropriately respond to the Civil Rights Movement and city divided by that struggle. They united everyone in Tiger blue—black and white.

The team established Tiger basketball as our major sports franchise for decades before the Grizzlies were added to our city, and they paved the way for the Final Four teams of 1985 and 2008 and the Elite Eight team of 1992.

Tiger basketball and Tiger players are special to us because of that team, and the individual players and coaches on it were special people.


Even though this year’s Tigers did not win the game against the #1 ranked Houston team this past Sunday, the picture above still shows the love of the team and how they continue to unite us.

We’re so close: The first game for the Memphis Showboats is Saturday, April 15th, and the team will be here next week to begin training. Memphis Showboats 2023 Tickets are on sale now, and fans can visit theUSFL.com to purchase season, group and individual game tickets. Packages include:

  • Season tickets for all 10 games for $30
  • Season tickets offer the best value and include all six Memphis Showboats games (including two against the Houston Gamblers), as well as four additional Houston Gamblers games at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. All USFL seating is on the west side of the stadium (press box side).
  • Tickets Starting at $10
  • Fans who purchase season tickets by March 15, 2023, will be invited to an exclusive pre-season event that will include special giveaways, access, and more.

Let’s go Showboats!

Enjoy your weekend!


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