The Commercial Appeal

White likely to be Shelby County Commission’s special counsel

- Katherine Burgess

Janika White, a former contender for the Democratic nominee for Shelby County district attorney, is now the lone candidate for a position of special counsel for the Shelby County Commission.

The commission has long relied on attorneys in the Shelby County Attorney’s Office, which reports to Mayor Lee Harris, for legal advice, something some commission­ers have opposed.

If White is appointed Monday, she will be able to assist the legislativ­e body with legal advice separate from the county attorney’s office. The Memphis City Council has long relied on its own attorney, Allan Wade, in addition to hearing opinions from the city’s chief legal officer.

Details about pay and benefits for the position are expected to be worked out by Monday.

White said Wednesday that she has practiced law for about 14 years. She was one of three Democratic candidates for Shelby County district attorney, ultimately losing in the primary to Steve Mulroy.

Her parents are retired educators from Memphis City Schools, and her late uncle, the Rev. Ralph White, was a community leader and activist.

White previously served as a judicial law clerk to then-chancellor Kenny Armstrong of the Shelby County Chancery Court, and clerked for Bernice Bouie Donald, who at the time was a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee.

She currently works at her own law firm, but previously worked at Bailey, Bailey, & White PLLC with lawyer, civil rights icon and former County Commission­er Walter Bailey.

Commission­ers have also moved toward hiring their own fiscal officer, but have not yet posted that position.

Katherine Burgess covers government and religion. She can be reached at katherine.burgess@commercial­, 901-529-2799 or followed on Twitter @kathsburge­ss.

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