Attorney who influenced early domestic violence release tied to TN Supreme Court justices’ retention

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If you live in Nashville you probably know how one attorney’s friendship with a judge arguably got his client, charged with domestic violence, out of jail earlier than Tennessee law would allow.

The attorney, Bryan Lewis, also evidently has connections to three Tennessee Supreme Court justices up for a retention vote next month.

Lewis’ client David A. Chase was released — and circumstances immediately forced police to arrest Chase a second time on domestic violence charges against the same woman, his girlfriend.

THE LEWISES: Bryan and Tana Lewis, in a photo from Tana Lewis’ Facebook page

So far the same media outlets that have sensationalized this story have glossed over evidence showing Lewis sponsored a campaign breakfast June 18 for justices Gary Wade, Connie Clark and Sharon Lee.

As Tennessee Watchdog previously reported, Lewis and his wife, Tana, were sponsors alongside liberal interest groups, including the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee, which hosted the event.

Is Lewis trying to curry the same type of favor with these three justices as he evidently did the judge in the domestic violence case?

Tennessee Watchdog left a message seeking comment Monday with Lewis’ Nashville law firm, but neither he nor any of his representatives immediately returned requests for comment.

Judging by the Facebook pages for a Bryan and Tana Lewis of Nashville, he is evidently the same attorney receiving intense media scrutiny for his relationship with Nashville Judge Casey Moreland.

According to USA Today, Lewis and Moreland are personal friends. The paper reported that Lewis called him June 8 with a request to release Chase from jail early on domestic violence charges.

Quoting Tennessee law, USA Today reported that abuse suspects must remain in jail for 12 hours after their arrest.

“But Moreland ordered Chase released after he had been jailed for just three hours — even though a magistrate who booked Chase noted he was a threat to the victim and ordered him to jail for the full 12 hours,” according to the paper.

Quoting police, USA Today reported that Chase went home and attacked his girlfriend a second time, “throwing her on a bed, choking her, telling her he would kill her and destroying her cell phone before she ran to a neighbor.”

The Tennessean reported that Lewis and his wife contributed $8,500 to judicial candidates during the past eight years. The largest contributions — $1,500 each, the legal limit — went to Moreland.

According to the paper, Moreland is a Democrat running unopposed next month for a third full, eight-year term.

Tennessee Watchdog wanted to ask Lewis how much, if anything, he and his wife have contributed to the three justices up for retention?

Will the justices return that money, considering Lewis’ ties to perceived judicial corruption against a woman in a domestic violence case?

Groups representing the justices or favoring retention did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

These groups — mostly women — include Keep Tennessee’s Supreme Court Fair, spokeswomen Carol Andrews and Brenda Gadd, and the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee.

BREAKFAST CLUB: Bryan Lewis and his wife Tana were among the sponsors of a June 18 breakfasts honoring three Tennessee Supreme Court justices up for retention.

Other sponsors of the June 18 breakfast included Davidson County Democratic Women, as well as the Tennessee National Organization for Women. Other sponsors include the AAUW-TN and Women for Tennessee’s Future.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported, many Tennessee attorneys have held swanky fundraisers for the three justices, and one even indicated lawyers, not regular people, must take the lead on the election.

They and other pro-retention forces, such as Nashville attorney Lew Conner, still haven’t proven claims that big business and the Koch brothers are spending more than $1 million to oust them.

Tennessee lawyers likely want the state’s recently enacted tort reform laws overturned — possibly explaining why they’re going out of their way to help three justices, Tennessee Watchdog has reported.

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed the three justices. If voters remove even one, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam will replace that person, likely giving Republicans a majority on the court.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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