Judges Clarify How To Handle Domestic Violence Cases
by Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nearly every general sessions judge in Davidson County met Friday morning to clarify the rules they must follow when handling domestic violence cases.
The judges signed an order that mandates the rules of a bail reform bill as it pertains to the cases.
"We needed to understand the application of it, and clarify the application of it," said Judge Angelita Dalton.
Dalton passed around the order she asked her colleagues to sign. The order was created as a result of a controversial call Judge Casey Moreland made earlier this month. He released developer David Chase from jail after his domestic violence arrest.
Chase allegedly assaulted his girlfriend a second time after leaving the jail.
The judges said the new order mandates they consult a domestic violence judge before acting in those cases. Under the order, Chase most likely would have stayed in jail for the mandated 12 hours.
The general sessions judges will contact Judge Gale Robinson, Judge Gloria Dumas, or Dalton if an issue arises with a domestic violence case.
Judge Moreland was invited to attend Friday's meeting, but he decided not join his colleagues at the A.A. Birch Building.
Presiding Judge William Higgins said the specially called meeting was not meant to admonish Moreland. He said the meeting was called it to reassure the public about the judiciary.
"All we have is the trust and the confidence of the people, and that's of paramount importance. And that's one of the reasons for these resolutions," Higgins said.
Also at the meeting, the judges discussed the county's new domestic violence court that will start on September 1. At that time, all the cases will be handled by three judges, and will originate from one courtroom.
"When victims of domestic violence are required to come to court, whether it be on an order of protection, or any domestic violence offense as a victim, one courtroom they'll always come to," said Judge Gale Robinson.
The judges also signed a resolution reminding them of the judicial cannon rules they are expected to follow. One of them is ex parte communications. That rules states a communication about a case must be conducted with all parties involved.
Many people said Moreland broke that rule by taking a call from Chase's attorney, who is also a personal friend. That call is what led to the developer’s early release from jail.