The All White Judges' Club that Silently Supervised Braswell Injustices 

The most famous court judges in America are the U.S. Supreme Court Justices, however most Americans will never have a case before the U. court, but most Americans will have to go to a local court for one reason or another during their lifetime. It's unlikely that most average Americans can name more than two or three local judges even though judges are probably the local entities with the greatest influence on the lives of the citizens in a municipality other than state legislators.


In many instances state court judges have the power to take life, give life, and restore lives. Unless they are appointed, they are all elected officials. Most citizens know very little about the judges with power so great. Is it because of apathy, trust, out-of-sight out-of-mind, or attitudes of I just trust that the “Just Us” system works even when it's the system of “Just Us”. This collective, statistically speaking, consistently sentences Black defendants to 20% longer sentences than their White counterparts for the same crimes. Defendants literally get more time in prison based on their pigmentation. I would argue that it's an important tidbit to remember the next time someone pushes the VOTE button in the voting booth.


Who were the elected and public officials that either withheld helpful evidence and allowed it to disappear in the Braswell case or sat silently by and permitted it to happen. Vern Braswell gave us his recollections of each official.


Mischelle Alexander-Best (Black woman) was the first judge I appeared before but much of this was a haze. I know the title refers to the "All White Judges' Club", but keep in mind that there was a Black officer standing by permissively when George Floyd was murdered. I remember having 3 thoughts.


 1) It was as if she had venom dripping. The feeling of hatred from her was that strong. I had several business and I was hoping get a bond so I would not lose them. When she looked at me and I felt her venom I knew that was a wrap.


 2) Clayton Bigsby from the Dave Chappelle show.


 3) The NWA lyrics “Black police showing out for the White cop” was in my head as I left out of the courtroom. 


Of note, when I saw my in-laws, initially I was happy because I thought they were there to support me in saying this was all a big mistake. How naïve was I?

Louis J. Montesi, Jr. (White Man) is a judge for the Shelby County General Sessions Court, Division 13. His term expires in 2022.

After a preliminary hearing he bound Braswell over on first degree murder charges and would not allow him a bail.
“It seemed like everybody it the courtroom knew that Dr. Joye Carter was lying about autopsy related matters but it didn't matter to this White man who knew exactly what he was going to do to me when I walked in the courtroom.”

“This was probably the first time in my life the I really felt like or I knew what it was like to be a n*gg*r in their eyes.”



Judge Arthur Bennett (retired) (Black man) Former Criminal Court Judge in division 7

“A motion for a bond hearing was filed and it was assigned to his courtroom. Dozens of Memphians wrote letters on my behalf. At the last minute I was taken out of his courtroom to another judge who was affectionately called the “hangin' judge” around the jail. What an omen!”



Judge Joseph Dailey (retired) (White man) Former Criminal Court Judge in division 5

“Around the jail he was affectionately known as the hangin' judge and it didn't take me long to figure out why. I felt the disdain when he looked at me. After a two day bond hearing and dozens of letters he said those people didn't know the real me! Again I knew what it was like to be a n*gg*r in their eyes. There's an alarm inside Black people that let's us know when someone doesn't have our best interest at heart. Mine was like a tornado alarm around him. During the trial he told Attorney Glen Wright it was hearsay for Glen Wright to repeat what Glen Wright told me. I'm sure this was his one of his attempts to make sure the scales of justice were tilted against me. I felt visceral hate coming from Dailey.”

Prosecutor Amy Weirich (White woman) Her term expires in 2022
She was the prosecutor in division 5, now head Shelby County DA

Lead prosecutor on the Braswell trial, said “highly inappropriate” things about Braswell during opening arguments, initials on the mysterious sealed envelope that disappeared, gave the classic “I can’t recall” answer under oath about the envelope bearing her initials, Ranked one of the worst prosecutor in the nation by a Harvard Law School Project.

“I'd really like to know what happened to her to cause her to be the way she is. Other than that, there's a scene that comes to mind from The Help that shapes my opinion when I think back on my experiences from her,
‘You a Godless woman. Ain't you tired Ms. Hilly? Ain't you tired?’”



Prosecutor Betsy Camesale (White woman): Was prosecutor with Amy Weirich, Was division leader where sealed envelope of hidden evidence surfaced.

Co-prosecutor with Amy Weirich on the Braswell. While she may not have had her knee on Braswell’s neck like Weirch regarding the sealed and later vanishing envelope of evidence, it’s hard to believe she didn’t know a thing about it. She was the supervisor of the prosecutor whom flrst revealed the envelope to a Braswell attorney.

“I guess she would be one of Ms. Hilly’s followers. But sometimes it is the quiet ones you have to watch”

 Thomas T. Woodall (White man) Court of Criminal Appeals Judge: 


Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who wrote the opinion on State v. Braswell. He knew evidence about the letters of support and other evidence dealing with Braswell’s sentencing disappeared / vanished from the case record and he did nothing about it.

Judge David G. Hayes (White man) (retired) Court of Criminal Appeals Judge:


Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who agreed with the opinion on State v. Braswell. He knew evidence about the letters of support and other evidence dealing with Braswell’s sentencing disappeared / vanished from the case record and he did nothing about it.

Judge Norma McGee Ogle (White woman) Court of Criminal Appeals Judge:


Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who agreed with the opinion on State v. Braswell. She knew evidence about the letters of support and other evidence dealing with Braswell’s sentencing disappeared / vanished from the case record and she did nothing about it.

Judge Paula Skahan (White woman) Her term expires in 2022:


Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Div. 1 who presided over the Braswell Post-conviction relief petition.


“She received and accepted Weirich’s cavalier explanations about the envelope of evidence. Found a disbarred lawyer credible regarding the same type of issues he was disbarred for and after she caught him testifying inconsistent with the facts in a previous case. She deemed me so guilty that all of the new evidence and new testimony didn’t matter one bit to her. Said absolutely nothing about the prosecutor withholding knowledge of a partner we had been intimate with who had first hand knowledge. She pretty much allowed the prosecutors to do whatever they wanted to do including ghost court dates. Mistakenly berated me in open court and never apologized to me.”


Prosecutor Brian Davis (Black man):
Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction in J udge Skahan’s courtroom for a period of time.

“Davis failed for more than one year to schedule an opportunity for my lawyer to review the State's file as discovery in the post-conviction case. Told her that no one knew where the file was located; gave her different reasons why she could not have access to the file; and she was even told by him that the file was in California. My attorney told me Davis refused to allow her to plea other cases because of her advocacy on my case.”

Prosecutor Doug Carrikcr (White man):
Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction in Judge Skahan’s courtroom for a period of time after Davis.

“Agreed to allow my attorney to see and copy anything in my file she wanted until they came across a sealed envelope of evidence. After saying that he never encountered a situation like this in his life, he kinda sorta lost track of what happened to the envelope. He claimed under oath that he never saw the contents or the envelope ever again.”

Prosecutor Melanie Headley Cox (White woman):
Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction in Judge Skahan’s courtroom for a period of time after Carriker.

“She inherited my case file where the sealed envelope was discovered. She claimed no one ever told her about it. She claimed under oath that she never saw the contents or the envelope.”

Prosecutor Marques Young (Black man):
Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction in Judge Skahan’s courtroom for a period of time after Cox.

“He inherited my case file where the sealed envelope was discovered. He also claimed under oath that he only heard about the issue from Doug Carriker. Young left the case to go to the federal prosecutor’s office but his departure pushed the Amy Weirich issue to a date after the 2014 elections.”

Prosecutor Pam Stark (White woman): Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction in Judge Skahan’s courtroom for a period of time after Carriker.
“By the time she inherited my case, the sealed envelope was long gone. She refused to acknowledge the original prosecutors did not turn over evidence which she insisted that they did even after it became blatantly clear that they didn’t. Ghosted court in the middle of a hearing date once, seemingly because she knew Judge Skahan would say nothing about it. I remember while Amy Weirich was in the witness stand, Starks smarted off at Skahan so bad that one of the reporters sitting behind me in court, Mike Matthews, said, ‘WOW, and she just took it', referring to the Judge’s reluctance to admonish Starks. That made my Black man spidey sense begin to blare.”

Prosecutor Jonathan H. Wardle (White man):
Prosecutor on the Braswell Post-Conviction Appeal brief.

“He was so haughty and appeared to have so little respect for the courts that he went so far as to insinuate the mysterious envelope at the center of the post-convict hearings, never existed” 

Judge John Everette Williams (White man)Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who wrote the opinion on Braswell v. State.


“He determined that I was so guilty that all of the errors and mistakes that “may have been errors” in my trial did not matter. In his eyes, I was too guilty to get any relief from him. 

Judge Thomas T. Woodall (White man):
Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who agreed with the opinion on Braswell v. State.


“He determined that I was so guilty that all of the errors and mistakes that “may have been errors” in my trial did not matter. In his eyes, I was too guilty to get any relief from him. 

Judge Norma McGee Ogle (White woman): Court of Criminal Appeals Judge who agreed with the opinion on Braswell v. State.


“She determined that I was so guilty that all of the errors and mistakes that “may have been errors” in my trial did not matter. In her eyes, I was too guilty to get any relief from her”



Prosecutor Richard Davison Douglas (White man): State of Tennessee prosecutor on Braswell's Federal Habeas Corpus Petition.


Of all the State prosecutors, he's probably the most ethical. The only state prosecutor to admit that the Shelby County DA did not turn over helpful evidence from the Karen Taylor statement.


Elected and Public Officials to come


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Grants Clemency in the form of commutations, pardons, etc


Please show your support for Vern being granted a Clemency release because of the injustices in his case and so he can continue working on his prison reform proposals and to conduct prison reform research by clicking here to send an email to TN's Gov Lee & the Clemency Unit. You MUST include your info at the closing of the email.


God bless you.
Mary (Vern's mom)


If you want to join me in helping to get Justice For Vern please contact me, follow me, and visit me at J4VernBraswell@afmfm.org @J4VernBraswell https://afmfm.org/justiceforvernbraswell-org/


This was composed in conjunction with Black Defendants Matter. BDM is responsible for researching and publicizing the Braswell case. Our policies WILL GUARANTEE an end to brutality and racism in the criminal justice system. Will you please help us?
Visit, follow, & contact us at: www.BlackDefendantsMatter.org @BlackDefendants BDM@Afmfm.org