On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, FOX13 reported that nearly 30 criminal cases were removed from the courtroom of Shelby County General Sessions Judge Shelia Renfroe and assigned to other judges. This was in response to a motion filed by Public Defender Melody Carlisle, who requested that Judge Renfroe recuse herself from the 28 cases due to a perceived bias against Carlisle.

In his ruling granting the recusal, Shelby County Judge Chris Craft cited Judge Renfroe’s “clear appearance of bias” towards Melody Carlisle and her failure “to promptly rule on the motion to recuse as she is obligated to do by law.” Judge Craft noted that the motion was filed on May 20th but Judge Renfroe had delayed ruling on it until July 26th, over two months later. Given many of the cases involved defendants with alleged mental health issues assigned to mental health court, the delay “may well prove to be a danger” to those defendants.

Among the reasons cited for Judge Renfroe’s bias was an incident where she ordered Carlisle to leave the courtroom while cases were still pending, threatening incarceration if she did not leave. However, Carlisle had not been found in contempt of court or given a hearing for any alleged wrongdoing. Judge Craft said this occurred in front of the defendants’ families. Judge Craft also alleged that Judge Renfroe had sent emails to the Public Defender’s office referring to Carlisle as “unbalanced” and “a danger to the community.”

Even if Judge Renfroe harbored no ill will towards Carlisle personally, Judge Craft ruled her behavior in the courtroom created the perception of bias among the defendants and families present. As a result, he remanded all 28 of Carlisle’s pending cases before Judge Renfroe to other divisions of the General Sessions Court to be reassigned to different judges.

 

 

Source: FOX13