A lawsuit filed by local activist Pamela Moses provided the storyline for a legal drama that played out in Chancery Court last week with the plaintiff representing herself.
Moses, aka “P. Moses,” sought an “Emergency Petition for Protective Restraining Order” against “the all-male Shelby County Election Commission,” which she asserted had taken retaliatory action against her for a separate judicial lawsuit “exposing them.”
Chancellor JoeDae Jenkins presided over the two-day hearing, ultimately denying Moses’ request for the order of protection against the Election Commission. The case scenario included Moses’ account of being detained at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport on an arrest warrant issued in Shelby County and bussed back to Memphis with other fugitives.
Moses declared her candidacy for mayor in this past year’s General Election. After kicking off her campaign and learning that she had been disqualified, she sued the Election Commission seeking judicial review to be placed on the ballot.
The Election Commission, Moses argued, took retaliatory action against her for the judicial lawsuit.
Flashback to November 12 and Moses, an accomplished rapper, was returning from a trip to London, where she was recording the music video for a January-release single, “Shooting Stars.” Coming back through customs, she was detained on a Fugitive of Justice warrant signed by Judge James Lammey, who, according to Moses, had recused himself from a 2015 case involving her.
“Actually, they were very courteous to me in customs, but (Shelby County District Attorney) Amy Weirich had me listed as a fugitive from justice,” Moses said. “Even the people in customs were saying, ‘Why don’t we just let her take the flight back home and arrest her in Memphis?’ The whole thing was designed to humiliate me and to deprive me of my rights. The customs agents kept saying, ‘It’s the South. That’s how it is in the South.’”
The emergency order of protection was necessary, said Moses, to stop Election Commission from sending derogatory information to the D.A.’s office.
Moses earlier was convicted on charges stemming from allegations that she voted illegally in several elections. At last week’s hearing, it was revealed that Moses sought to subpoena witnesses from the Election Commission and the district attorney’s office in an effort to prove her case.
Representing the Election Commission, attorney Pablo Varela argued that the subpoenas could not be enforced because recipients had only been given two days rather than the allotted 21 days. Jenkins agreed.
Varela also pushed back on having documents subpoenaed, asserting that Moses was gathering information to be used in discovery of material for her upcoming criminal trial.
Moses is charged with 14 counts of criminal fraud and illegal voter registration. During her mayoral run, Moses was asked to provide proof that her right to vote had been restored following a 2015 conviction. It was not provided at the appointed time and she was declared ineligible.
According to Varela, the restoration of rights – citizenship, to vote and run for office – considered separately after a felony conviction.
At one point in last week’s hearing, Moses said she was a victim of false arrest and imprisonment and that her 13th Amendment right had been violated. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.
“Your Honor, I object,” Varela said in reference to Moses’ 13th Amendment assertion. “At no time did the Election Commission subject Ms. Moses into forced servitude.”
Moses said she suffers with asthma and other problems and that she was taken into custody at the Chicago airport without her needed medication.
“After an eight-hour flight from London, I needed my medication. They told me I couldn’t have medication while I was locked up in Cook County. So I spent eight days at the hospital in custody so I could receive medication.
“After that, I was released and put in a white van with nothing but men. They were picking up and dropping off fugitives. We rode through 18 states,” she said.
“Four days we were on that van, only stopping for bathroom breaks and to eat. The whole situation was just very disheartening, and I’m trying to tell people that the Election Commission and district attorney’s office is conspiring against me.”
The Election Commission had no further comments and the district attorney’s office had not returned a call by press deadline.