The legislature checked Nashville DA Glenn Funk's authority. This is how he feels about it.

Glenn Funk.jpeg
Posted at 1:21 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 19:42:51-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A piece of legislation that would affect district attorneys caught the eye of Nashville's Glenn Funk this week.

The bill — passed in the legislature during a three-day special COVID-19 special — would allow for the Attorney General’s office to petition a court to replace district attorneys who “peremptorily and categorically” refuse to prosecute certain laws. As of Wednesday, the governor hasn't signed the bill into law.

This legislation — with Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton sponsoring — comes on the heels of Funk declaring he wouldn't prosecute MNPS teachers if they require masks in the classrooms.

"The executive order dealt with public school systems, can I have a mask mandate in public schools? Funk said. "A school board member contacted me and said, 'hey, if we have a mask mandate in Nashville, are we going to get prosecuted?' My simple response is I'm never going to prosecute a teacher or an administrator or a school board member for keeping our children safe. I'm not going to do that. In reality, what are the odds that that's ever going to turn into a case? Zero. I cannot imagine a Metro Nashville Police Officer going to White's Creek High School and arresting a school teacher or the principal because they had a mask mandate."

But during their Senate committee about the bill, Sen. John Stevens said the issue for the bill went back to Funk not wanting to prosecute low-levels of marijuana possession, dating back to the proclamation in 2020.

"If they [DAs] disagree with the policy of the law, they should run for the Tennessee General Assembly," Stevens said last week.

That's not necessarily how Funk feels about the legislation.

"In the last version of the bill that I saw, the mechanism would be, 'oh, Glenn Funk is not prosecuting marijuana or Glenn Funk is not prosecuting our prohibition on mask mandates or Glenn Funk is not prosecuting doctors for not telling patients this junk science that we put into this bill,'" he said. "So, what would happen is the Attorney General would be responsible to use the Attorney General's discretion on whether or not to go to the court. In one version of the law, go to the supreme court of the state of Tennessee and say, 'This needs to be prosecuted. I want the attorney general of the state to go and get a special prosecutor to go ahead and prosecute these crimes.'"

Funk is often at the forefront of prominent issues like the bathroom bill, which passed in the legislature in 2021 session. He's also been vocal about abortion, going back to a 2020 law that is tied up in federal court. That year, Gov. Bill Lee signed a law to block the procedure as early as six weeks or if the doctor is aware the patient is seeking an abortion due to the fetus' sex, race or Down syndrome diagnosis. Since then, it's remain blocked, according to a ruling in September.

"I've very clearly stated my position, which is criminal law should not be used to try to incarcerate a doctor or a patient who's exercising their reproductive rights," Funk said. "And sure enough, the judge said it's an unconstitutional law. It's my oath that I swore, when I was sworn in, was to the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Tennessee. If something is that clearly unconstitutional, no, I'm not going to prosecute and try to incarcerate based upon an unconstitutional statute."