Murder Conviction Overturned Due To MPD 48 Hour Holds Policy

Posted on: 5:31 pm, March 23, 2012, by , updated on: 05:46pm, March 23, 2012

(Memphis) A Memphis man has his 1st degree murder case overturned for the way he was treated by Memphis police.

This is the third time the Tennessee Court of Appeals has warned Memphis police about holding people for 48 hours in jail before they charge them.

This time they overturned a 1st degree murder case and threw out an attached robbery charge altogether.

A jury sentenced 22-year-old Courtney Bishop to life in prison for 1st degree murder.

He was convicted for killing Maurice Taylor at an Orange Mound home in 2008. Memphis police held Bishop in jail for 48 hours while they built a case against him.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals overturned his conviction this week.

He’ll now be re-tried on a reduced charge of 2nd degree murder.

“I teach constitutional criminal procedure at the law school. I’d never heard of the procedure before,” said Shelby Co. Commissioner, Steve Mulroy.

Mulroy is also a law professor at the University of Memphis. He believes the 48 hour hold policy that MPD has been using for at least 15 years is unconstitutional. If it’s not stopped, he says it could spell trouble for other cases.

“We do not want otherwise valid convictions being thrown out because the police violated the suspect’s rights,” said Mulroy.

Placing people they’re questioning but not officially charged in jail for 48 hours is a common practice for Memphis police.

Records show they did it almost a thousand times just last year. City Attorney Herman Morris issued WREG a statement.

He says they’re reviewing the policy and the bottom line is that any arrests will be made with probable cause. He doesn’t clearly answer if the practice will stop.

Mulroy fears if the practice continues there will be civil lawsuits. He’s prepared to do what he can to stop them in county government.

“The county commission can’t directly tell the judges what to do but we do have budget authority and I personally think that we ought to stop funding the judicial commissioners if they’re going to continue to use this procedure that is unconstitutional,” said Mulroy.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office used the 48 hour hold six times last year and since this ruling have said they’re stopping the procedure.

Meanwhile, late this afternoon District Attorney Amy Weirich said all 48 hour holds are made with probable cause and her office may appeal the court’s decision to overturn that 1st degree murder conviction.

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