October 24, 2014 / 12:05 AM / 5 years ago

Tennessee judge reprimanded for aiding release in assault case

NASHVILLE Tenn. (Reuters) - A Tennessee judicial conduct board has reprimanded a judge who intervened to gain a prominent developer accused of assaulting a girlfriend an early release from a cooling-off period in jail, the state courts office said on Thursday.

Police said the man, who was released after three hours rather than the 12 hours called for in the June case, attacked the woman again that same morning.

The release drew heavy criticism from city leaders and Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, who called it a fiasco.

General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland told a judicial commissioner reviewing the assault case that a 12-hour hold should not be imposed because the suspect and the woman did not have a domestic relationship, the state Administrative Office of the Courts said Thursday in a statement.

Moreland admitted that he erred in contacting the judicial commissioner and said during the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct’s inquiry that he had received incorrect information from an attorney who was a social friend.

Moreland’s actions spurred the court to impose new rules allowing a judge to shorten the 12-hour cooling-off period only under strict conditions after hearing from the prosecutor, the suspect and the alleged victim.

Moreland was re-elected to the Davidson County general sessions bench in August.

“Judge Moreland readily admitted his mistake ... and the judge agreed he will no longer directly communicate with commissioners about bond conditions,” said attorney Ed Yarbrough, who represented Moreland.

Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by David Bailey and Mohammad Zargham

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