Attorney: Judge Moreland considering defamation suit against police chief

Attorney: Judge Moreland considering defamation suit against police chief (Image 1)

Nashville attorney Bob DeLaney has told News 2 that General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland has asked him to look at the possibility of filing a libel lawsuit against Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson.

Delaney, who has defended and prosecuted libel cases, told News 2 that “no decision has been made yet” on pursuing legal action, but there is almost a year yet before the statute of limitations expires.

Confirmation of the potential lawsuit comes after a blistering June 16 public letter from Chief Anderson to Bill Higgins, the presiding judge of Metro Nashville’s General Sessions, about Judge Moreland’s actions on a domestic abuse case involving well-known contractor David Chase.

Delaney told News 2 he is looking at two potential causes of action against Chief Anderson.

One would be defamation and the other what he termed “false light privacy.”

As one example, false light privacy has been described as focusing only on certain facts, while leaving out others that would be important to a published document.

In the June 16 letter, Anderson cited a “cavalier demeanor” from Judge Moreland during a phone conversation about the Chase case.

The chief said the judge told him “this is just good ole boys doing what good ole boys do and I should understand.”

Moreland has publicly acknowledged he made a mistake by ordering Chase released from a 12-hour cooling-off period following a phone call from the contractor’s then-attorney Bryan Lewis after an Chase’s arrest on allegations he beat up an ex-girlfriend.

Police say Chase assaulted his girlfriend again within hours after his release.

When contacted about the possibility of legal action, a spokesperson at Anderson’s office said the chief has not been notified that he is the subject of a lawsuit that has not been filed. 

Since the incident, Metro General Sessions judges have issued new guidelines for how domestic assault suspects can be released from 12-hour cooling off periods.

On Tennessee’s Capitol Hill, state lawmakers from both parties have said they will introduce legislation making 12-hour cooling off periods mandatory.

Current law leaves discretion for judges not impose a 12-hour cooling off period in domestic abuse cases if they believe the suspect is no longer a threat to the victim.

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