Woman sentenced to 6 years after registering to vote despite felony sues Tennessee for emotional distress
Pamela Moses' lawsuit alleges that prosecutors were aware of the error that led to the certificate of restoration of her voting rights.
An activist who was given a six-year prison sentence for registering to vote despite being permanently ineligible because of her criminal history is suing the state of Tennessee for emotional anguish.
According to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, 45-year-old Pamela Moses contends she suffered mental agony, emotional strain, anxiety, humiliation and demoralization due to 82 days in jail following her November 2021 conviction for making a false entry on permanent voter registration.
TheGrio previously reported that Moses, who started Black Lives Matter Memphis, was deemed ineligible to vote after she pleaded guilty to two felonies and three misdemeanors in 2015 and sentenced to seven years of probation.
She attempted to regain her rights while making an unlikely run for the Memphis mayoral nomination in 2019, and requested assistance from a probation officer to obtain the Tennessee-required certificate.
That probation officer certified that Moses had completed probation for the crimes that stripped her of her rights, a signed sworn statement that later turned out to be inaccurate. The state later accused Moses of knowing her criminal history disqualified her from voting, running for office and manipulating the probation officer into believing otherwise.
“You tricked the probation department into giving you documents saying you were off probation,” said Shelby County Criminal Judge Mark Ward, theGrio previously reported. “After you were convicted of a felony in 2015, you voted six times as a convicted felon.”
Moses maintained she genuinely believed she was free and clear to vote and run for office.
According to The Commercial Appeal, following the district attorney’s office’s delivery of a crucial piece of evidence that the Department of Corrections had previously misplaced, Ward ordered a new trial for Moses. Former Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich’s office later decided not to retry the case and instead dropped the charges in April.
Moses is now suing the state of Tennessee, Weirich and current Shelby County top prosecutor Steve Mulroy.
The lawsuit alleges that the district attorney’s office was aware of the Shelby County Election Commission’s error that led to the certificate of restoration of Moses’ voting rights.
“As a result, Plaintiff was wrongfully convicted, and her life was placed on pause while she fought to prove she had no involvement in the mistakes of the Shelby County Election Commission,” the lawsuit read, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Organizations advocating for Moses said government officials used her case to send a message to Black voters.
Moses is suing for both emotional and punitive damages.
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