Lawmaker works to stop judicial diversion - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Lawmaker works to stop judicial diversion

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Otis Jackson Otis Jackson
State Representative Barrett Rich says he has fought for the elimination of judicial diversion since being first elected in 2008. State Representative Barrett Rich says he has fought for the elimination of judicial diversion since being first elected in 2008.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A state lawmaker is working to change laws that currently allow elected officials convicted of a crime to run for office.

A former Shelby County clerk, now under diversion, is the most recent example of a loophole allowing that to happen.

State Representative Barrett Rich of Fayette County uses the most recent example of former county clerk Otis Jackson.

Jackson was before a judge and was indicted on misconduct charges. However, he was given judicial diversion, which means his record will be wiped clean in one year if he stays out of legal trouble. That would allow him to run for office again down the road.

"It violates the public's trust and taxpayers deserve better," said Rep. Barrett Rich, Fayette County.

State Representative Barrett Rich says he has fought for the elimination of judicial diversion since being first elected in 2008.

Legislators passed a law in 2012 saying if you are a politician convicted of a crime related to your office, you will not be granted diversion.

"I believe its unfair for the victim to suffer from the crime and the criminal not have to take responsibility or admit what they did was wrong," said Rep. Rich.

Just this week, former Shelby County General Sessions Clerk Otis Jackson was granted diversion.

However, Jackson was convicted before this new law was passed, so in one year, he will be able to run for office again.

"I believe everybody deserves a second chance but when you're trusted by the citizens of this great state to serve the public in office, one chance is all you get," said Rep. Rich.

Rich says he is now working on legislation eliminating health benefits for politicians convicted of a crime.

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