Shelby County court clerk Joe Brown says audit finds extra $12 million


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you’ve had a lawsuit in Shelby County Court, you could be owed some money.

A new member of Shelby County government said he found some accounting issues since he took office.

“There’s 12 million dollars in the account that nobody can account for,” said Michael Williams, chief administrative officer for General Sessions Clerk Joe Brown.

Williams says the hefty discovery came via audits during Brown’s first 90 days in office.
The former city councilman is working from home while recovering from COVID-19.

“We wanted to raise the flag so could be understood we are investigating and trying to get to the bottom of it,” Williams said.

That’s why Brown sent a letter to Mayor Lee Harris and the County Commission, stating “the Clerk’s office is not a bank and should not have excessive amounts of money on hand for long periods of time.” He also stated it’s taken years to build up this much money and attributed it to a disparity in the accountability of money from previous administrations.

Brown asked for an external forensic audit immediately.

Williams said most of the money comes from leftover payments owed to plaintiffs and law firms in civil cases.

“Some law firms may get a check for $150,000; they’re happy to get it but if you don’t go back and realize you may have $5,000 missing then that money remains in that account,” Williams said.

In response, County Commissioner Mark Billingsley said it seems “like an extraordinary amount of cash” and he “wants answers.”

Commissioners say they will discuss it during the budget committee at their meeting on Wednesday.

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