MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday afternoon, a federal judge said no to a motion to move the trial for Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson outside of Shelby County or exclude Shelby residents from being members of a jury.
Robinson is charged with theft and embezzlement. Prosecutors say she stole $600,000 from the certified nursing school she founded with a federal grant. She’s accused of spending the money on lavish vacations, Grizzlies tickets, clothes, her wedding and later divorce.
Friday afternoon a federal judge heard arguments surrounding a motion to transfer Robinson’s case out of Memphis or to exclude Shelby County residents from the jury pool. Prosecutors say they made the request following what they called inflammatory remarks Robinson made to media, in which she said the government is prosecuting the case for improper reasons.
A report by WREG was cited in the motion, after she spoke to us following a recent court appearance.
“From this attack from the government I have endured quite a bit like losses in my finances as well as the businesses being stripped of the resources,” Robinson said at the time.
The motion notes Robinson saying she believes the charges are racially motivated.
“I’ve been criminalized for something that normally wouldn’t be a criminal activity,” Robinson said. “All I’ve done is try to expand our business, run our business in the best way possible, to grant new opportunities for our students to expand our reach.”
The motion also cited supporters becoming more active and vocal about the case as the trial approaches, threatening to disrupt the trial itself. The motion says supporters have created a website where individuals are asked to sign up to pack the courtroom and shut the city down for a week.
Robinson’s defense team argued the government has generated a tremendous amount of press in their original release of charges. The virtual court appearance also focused on upcoming testimony and evidence to be presented at the upcoming trial.
The defense said they did not have the proper information. The judge said she would allow for a possible, short continuance in the trial if needed.
For now, the trial is still set for September 13, but that still change in the coming weeks. Both the prosecution and defense have been told by the judge to not speak to media about this case.