Three Tennessee state senators have submitted a complaint against General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland, the elected official mired in a controversial domestic violence case.
"The swift and strong public outcry over this matter echoes our grave concern that the public's perception of the effectiveness of our judiciary has been severely damaged," wrote Mike Bell, R-Riceville.
Senators Bell, Brian Kelsey, and Randy McNally filed the complaint with the Board of Judicial Conduct on Friday. Moreland came under fire when he waived a 12-hour holding period for a defendant accused of beating his ex-girlfriend. Police said this led prominent contractor David Chase to attack the alleged victim for the second time that morning.
Bell said he wanted to make sure someone addressed the matter.
"The three of us were somewhat concerned the Board of Judicial Conduct would not initiate an investigation on their own, so we took the steps to file a complaint to make sure that investigation was open," Bell said.
State code prohibits the board from disclosing its investigations or who it reprimands privately.
Channel 4 spoke to Sens. Bell and Kelsey on Saturday night. Both said they want to see Moreland face sanctions.
"My hope is when you do have egregious, public bad behavior by judges we should also have at the very least public punishment of those judges," said Kelsey, R-Germantown.
In the complaint, the lawmakers accuse Moreland of violating several judicial codes of conduct. The document highlights Moreland's relationship with Chase's attorney, Bryan Lewis. Pictures on social media show the two men vacationing together.
The complaint was also submitted with Moreland's campaign contributions for 2013. Lewis donated $1,500, which is the most an individual can give to a local candidate.
Moreland's attorney, Robert DeLaney, previously told Channel 4 the judge did not show favoritism in the case.
Kelsey said the complaint gives Moreland a chance to defend his own case. He can file a written response.
"I'm certainly glad Judge Moreland will be given a chance to respond but in this case looks like the investigation has largely been done," said Kelsey, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "What needs to be done is mete out the punishment, but we'll see."
At least a dozen Metro Council members have called for Moreland's resignation in light of his decision last month. Several lawmakers have already proposed legislation that would make the 12-hour waiting period mandatory. Gov. Haslam has publicly backed the idea.
Moreland did not return calls for comment Saturday evening. DeLaney said he had not heard from Moreland on the issue, either.
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