Nashville police chief chides judge over assault suspect - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Nashville police chief chides judge over domestic assault suspect

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Judge Casey Moreland Judge Casey Moreland
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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Nashville's police chief is lashing out at a Davidson County general sessions judge for his role in a high-profile domestic violence case.

In fact, Chief Steve Anderson is calling it a "fiasco."

David A. Chase was arrested on June 8, accused of domestic assault.

A judicial commissioner who heard the case ordered Chase to a 12-hour "cooling off" period in jail, which is allowed under Tennessee law for the safety of alleged victims.

But the release time of 6:23 p.m. was crossed out, and the commissioner wrote, "Not a domestic relationship per Judge [Casey] Moreland."

Chase was then released, went back to his apartment, allegedly attacked his ex-girlfriend again and was rearrested for felony assault.

Anderson raised questions when the case came to light.

In his memo to the presiding judge in general sessions court, the police chief says Moreland called him to talk about the case.

Anderson described Moreland's demeanor as cavalier, saying the judge implied that the incident was "good ole boys doing what good ole boys do."

The chief also directed withering criticism at Moreland's public statement that "other than the victim, no one feels any worse than I do about what happened."

The news of Anderson's memo ignited talk across town on Wednesday.

Megan Barry, a councilwoman at-large and mayoral candidate, said the judge should face an ultimatum: Moreland should either publicly defend himself or resign from his position.

"I think he needs to account for what he did, and I think he needs to do that publicly," Barry said.

Mayor Karl Dean praised Anderson's memo Wednesday.

"I think Chief Anderson spoke very clearly and very eloquently about the concerns the city has," Dean said. The mayor served as the city's public defender for several years during the 1990s.

"When you're making a decision, you gotta hear from the district attorney, and the victims, and the police. You need to hear from the defense, too. But you need to hear from everybody. You can't do it just hearing from one side."

But records show similar incidents have occurred in the past. Earlier this year, Dean's office released the full version of its latest domestic violence safety and accountability assessment conducted in 2013.

The study revealed the 12-hour holds waived for 40 percent of the 131 defendants arrested on domestic violence charges during October 2012. The report indicates two of those defendants re-attacked the same victim within a day of their release.

The assessment offers various recommendations from raising bonds to reviewing a defendant's criminal history.

Some advocates question why victims' rights continue to fall to the wayside.

"The message that it sends to the offender is it's OK to do this," said Michelle Mowery Johnson, the communications director for the YWCA. "And it's absolutely not OK. This community needs to stand up and say, 'It's not OK, and we don't want to see this anymore.'"

"Is there apathy? Is there lack of knowledge? We're just frustrated the courts don't seem to realize how big the problem of domestic violence is," Johnson said.

The YWCA operates the state's largest women's shelter. Johnson said women fill the facility's 51 beds nearly every day of the year.

Moreland did not comment on the incident or the memo Wednesday.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, you can contact the YWCA at 1-800-334-4628.

To read Anderson's entire seven-page memo, visit http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/wsmv/Higgins.pdf.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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