DA investigates Memphis City Attorney - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DA investigates Memphis City Attorney

Elbert Jefferson Elbert Jefferson

By Nick Kenney and Janice Broach - Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County District Attorney General is investigating actions by Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson to determine if Jefferson should be ousted from office.

A press release issued Friday from District Attorney General Bill Gibbons' office says Gibbons, "has the duty to file an ouster suit against a public official 'holding any office of trust or profit' upon receiving notice that the employee has committed misconduct in office or has neglected to perform his duties."

The press release adds that the 'ouster statute' provides an instance where the district attorney has the power to issue a subpoena without initiating a grand jury or court proceeding.

"Mr. Jefferson is not an elected official, but he is appointed, and under state statute because of his responsibilities the DA can file an ouster suit against him," said D.A. spokesperson Jennifer Donnals.

Donnals added it's something that's not done often.

Friday, Gibbon's office issued subpoenas requiring testimony from certain individuals and requested documents from the City Attorney's office related to the investigation. However, Gibbons' office is not limiting its focus to any specific incident.

Jefferson did not want to be interviewed Friday, but did speak with Action News 5 last month after Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery tried to fire him.

"For anyone to say I am spending money wastefully doesn't understand what it means to be the City Attorney, and doesn't understand the complexities of lawsuits," he said.

Meanwhile, Jefferson is demanding for his chance to talk to the Memphis City Council.  Council Chairman Harold Collins received a letter from the embattled attorney shortly after Council member Bill Morrison demanded his removal from office.

"I believe it's time for Mr. Jefferson to resign or if necessary be terminated," Morrison said Monday.

Morrison drafted a resolution requesting Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery "immediately remove Elbert Jefferson" as city attorney.  Morrison claims Jefferson should not have rushed a $55,000 paycheck to Robert Spence to pay for then Mayor Willie Herenton's legal bills.  The resolution is on the agenda for the next city council meeting.

In a letter, Jefferson requests a minimum of one hour in front of the entire city council to explain his actions.  He also requests all council questions in writing beforehand, plus separate five minute meetings with Collins and Councilwoman Janis Fullilove.

Jefferson writes that if Collins and Fullilove don't get it by then, "I will tender my resignation."

Collins says Jefferson will get to speak when the council considers Morrison's resolution, but that he won't get any of the special treatment requested.

According to his letter, Jefferson has missed several days of work this week because he is stick, and is staying home on doctor's orders.  He must return to City Hall to defend his position no later than the next council meeting on Tuesday.

"I honestly hope it ends on Tuesday with some sort of resolution," Collins said.

Whatever happens, Jefferson's letter ends, "people have a right to know the truth."

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