Nov 3, 2021 - Politics
District Attorney Glenn Funk responds to new bill
Headshot of District Attorney Glenn Funk' in his office
Photo courtesy of District Attorney Glenn Funk's office.

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.

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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