District Attorney Glenn Funk responds to new bill
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, who drew ire from the Republican-controlled legislature during the latest special session, tells Axios he will continue to consider cases the same way despite pushback.
- State lawmakers approved a bill that could preempt a prosecutor's authority if they decline to enforce certain laws. Their efforts were widely perceived to be a response to Funk's approach to his job.
Why it matters: The legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Bill Lee's signature, would allow the state attorney general to request a special prosecutor to enforce specific laws if a local district attorney refuses to do so.
- Funk tells Axios he will continue to focus his office's "finite amount of resources" on prosecuting violent crime.
Driving the news: Prosecutors get discretion to decide how they handle cases. Funk declines to prosecute people for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
- "If a possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana case comes across my desk that actually constitutes a violent crime or poses a risk to public safety, then I will evaluate whether to go forward with that case," he tells Axios. "But in 35 years of practicing law, I haven't seen one."
- He has also publicly refused to enforce controversial state laws limiting abortion access and requiring businesses to post a sign if they allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing.
The other side: Republicans have been sharply critical of Funk's statements, saying it is improper for him to pick and choose which laws to enforce.
The intrigue: Funk, who is up for reelection next year, doubled down on his positions in an advertisement placed in the program for a Democratic fundraiser last weekend.
- In the ad, obtained by Axios, Funk repeated his arguments against abortion restrictions, the "transphobic" bathroom law, "mass incarceration" for marijuana possession, and limits on masks in schools.
- He also highlighted quotes from his critics under the heading "What Republicans are saying about Glenn Funk," which included a picture of former President Donald Trump grimacing.
What he's saying: "Public officials must stand up for the Constitution, their community and common sense. Silence indicates agreement, and I do have some clear disagreements with some legislators on how to best use the resources of my office."
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