Attorneys of former commissioner accuse judge of bias in election trial

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former Shelby County Commissioner may soon have her arrest history expunged.

An appeals court reversed a ruling that denied a Henri Brooks diversion in sentencing.

"She's no longer a convicted felon, but has an arrest history," Brooks' attorney Michael Working said.

That arrest history could soon be wiped clean for former Shelby County commissioner Henri Brooks if she is granted diversion and gets her record expunged.

Brooks was placed on two years probation after entering an Alford Plea. She pleaded guilty without admitting wrongdoing for falsifying election documents in November 2014 during her bid for Juvenile Court Clerk.

Her attorneys appealed, arguing the judge should not have considered news coverage of comments Brooks made.

In May 2014, she was accused of a racial rant against a Hispanic employed roofing company contracted with the county.

In June 2014, Brooks was accused of shouting racial slurs and assaulting a woman over a parking spot, throwing water on her. That case was dismissed.

"It's really similar to Muhammad Ali," Working said. "You may not like what she had to say but she cannot be punished for saying it."

Brooks' attorneys asked the appeals court to consider her history of public service and argued the trial judge was biased.

"Whether it was intentional or it is was there, the court of criminal appeals recognized it and it will go in front of a new judge who is hopefully unbiased and impartial," Brooks' attorney Andre' C. Wharton said.

In her absence at a news conference about the appeal, her attorney read a statement she sent by text message.

"They told me to trust in the process and have faith in the system and this opinion is inspiring," the message said.

According to the appeals court document, former commissioner Henri Brooks was denied based on "evidence outside the record," and therefore the denial of diversion has been reversed by the appeals court.

The trial court denied diversion to Brooks and sentenced her to two years of probation. However, Brooks argued during an appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in denying diversion because it did not consider the factors for diversion because it depended on improper evidence.

The appeals court agreed and remanded for a new sentencing hearing after reversing the denial of diversion.

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