The unit will be headed by veteran prosecutor Paul Goodman.
“The job of this office is to do the right thing every day for the right reason,” Gen. Weirich said. “While we are responsible for protecting the public from criminal actors, our greater responsibility is to ensure that due process is followed every step of the way.
“We follow the facts, the law and the truth. When those lead us to guilt, we hold offenders accountable. When those lead us to innocence, or cause us to question a case, we dismiss charges.”
She said the DA’s Office always has had a procedure for reviewing cases when prosecutors are made aware of questionable conduct by officers, but that the creation of the special unit will streamline that process.
“The first cases to be reviewed will be those touched by former MPD Lt. Eric Kelly,” Gen. Weirich said. “Our knowledge of Kelly’s relationship with a defendant in a pending case goes back several months. Steps were taken immediately to first review and evaluate the pending murder case. Later, I asked the head of our Public Corruption and Economic Crime Unit to conduct an investigation into whether Kelly’s actions violated state criminal law.”
She said the facts and evidence reviewed to date do not support bringing any criminal charges against Kelly. Gen. Weirich noted that violations of police policy and procedures are not the same as violations of state criminal law.
Potential charges reviewed in the Kelly matter included prostitution, coercion of a witness, sexual contact with a probationer or parolee, sexual contact with inmates, misuse of official information, official oppression and official misconduct.
Kelly resigned in November amid allegations that he violated department policy as case officer in a murder investigation. Gen. Weirich said that Kelly’s cases – closed and pending – will be the first reviewed by Goodman in his new position. After that, every case involving officers whose conduct has violated police department policy or criminal law will be reviewed.
She said the unit has been in the planning stages for some time and that the Kelly case presented the right time to move forward with it.
Goodman has been an assistant district attorney for some 33 years and has tried more than 100 criminal cases, ranging from first-degree murder to vandalism. His most recent assignment has been Team leader of the DA’s Vertical Team 4 which handles cases in General Sessions 12 and Criminal Court Division 4.
Former prosecutor Carrie Shelton Bush will replace Goodman as Team Leader when she returns to the office on Feb. 3rd. Since last May she had served as Executive Director for Regional Administration for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.