Three GOP state senators file complaint against Nashville judge

Three Tennessee state senators have filed a complaint against Davidson County Judge Casey Moreland in the wake of his controversial decision to waive the 12-hour “cooling-off” period and release a man accused of abusing his girlfriend.

From The Tennessean:

Sens. Mike Bell, Randy McNally and Brian Kelsey have submitted the complaint to the Board of Judicial Conduct, which is charged with investigating allegations of misconduct by the state’s judges. In the complaint the senators say Moreland’s actions “have done nothing but promote distrust, suspicion and a belief that the ‘good ole boy’ system pervades the judiciary.”

On June 8, after a call from his friend and political contributor, local attorney Bryan Lewis, Moreland, a general sessions judge, overruled a 12-hour domestic violence hold on David A. Chase, who was accused of pulling his girlfriend out of his apartment by her hair. Less than three hours after his arrest, the prominent Nashville contractor was released by Moreland, and police say he returned to beat his girlfriend again while she was packing her belongings to leave.

“Reports indicate that Judge Moreland was completely disconnected but chose to insert himself into the case,” Bell, R-Riceville, wrote Friday in a statement explaining why he filed the complaint. “It is our duty as legislators to oversee the creation of laws and to check and balance our other governmental branches. We strongly feel it is within our duty to ensure that a proper complaint to the Board of Judicial Conduct is formally filed in this matter.”

Bell, Kelsey, R-Germantown, and McNally, R-Oak Ridge, accused Moreland of violating several Tennessee Supreme Court rules that govern judges. They chastised him for talking with Lewis without involving prosecutors, and they allege Lewis’ tight-knit relationship with the judge influenced Moreland’s actions.

“Judge Moreland has engaged in actual impropriety and should be severely sanctioned by the board,” the senators wrote in the complaint.

Moreland has publicly acknowledged that he and Lewis are friends. The two have vacationed together in Costa Rica, and Lewis and his wife each contributed $1,500 — the legal limit — to Moreland’s campaign in 2013.