A lawyer, a judge, political donations and domestic violence

The Tennessean raises the question of whether a Nashville judge was helping a lawyer who contributed to his campaign when he allowed the release of one of the lawyer’s clients, who then allegedly beat his victim a second time.

Nashville attorney Bryan Lewis and his wife have contributed more than $8,500 to judicial candidates in the past eight years, but the family’s largest contributions have been to the re-election this year of Judge Casey Moreland — who intervened in a domestic assault case so Lewis’ client could gain early release from jail.

The client, Nashville contractor David Chase, returned home to attack his girlfriend a second time on the same day, according to police.

The case has drawn sharp criticism from police, domestic violence advocates and lawmakers, some of whom have called on Moreland to step down.

Moreland, who is running for re-election unopposed, has declined to resign. The deadline for any opposing candidate to challenge him in the Aug. 7 election passed in February. No names can be removed after this week because election officials must mail ballots to military personnel on Monday.

So far, no one has publicly expressed a willingness to enter a race against Moreland as a write-in candidate.

Since 2006, Lewis and his wife have given $8,550 to General Sessions candidates, according to campaign finance records. In November, Lewis and his wife each contributed $1,500 — the legal limit — to Moreland’s campaign. Other candidates received less, from Bryan Lewis’ $250 contribution to Adam Dread in November to Lewis’ combined contributions of $1,100 to Judge Rachel Bell over the past two years.

Moreland this week said he and Lewis have been friends for years and vacationed together, but stressed that the men’s friendship did not influence his decision to grant an early release to Chase, a decision he has since apologized for making.

A separate story reports the experience of the victim, who was held down, beaten and strangled during the second assault.

Tennessee law says that domestic abuse and stalking suspects should be held in jail for 12 hours after an arrest if they are determined to be a continued danger to victims. Bull, who said she and Chase broke up about two weeks ago, said she had returned to his apartment to collect her belongings.

“The police told me I had 12 hours to get my things together. That’s what I did,” she said, later adding, “I knew I had 12 hours to get out, and I knew I had 12 hours to make a plan.”