Changes to Tennessee’s !2 hour hold in domestic violence cases is set for committee review this afternoon . Current law requires that anyone arrested for a domestic violence charge must be held in custody for 12 hours before one could make a bail bond. A judge has discretion to waive the 12 hour hold . In light of one high profile case , the Tennessee State Legislature is pushing a bill to remove all discretion from judges and magistrates.

Domestic violence is the new crime du jour that is a political football . Just read State Senator Steven Dickerson op-ed piece in yesterday’s Tennessean . In Senator Dickerson’s article , he speaks of all the problems of the domestic violence problem. It is article with some facts but no solution except bashing the courts . Here is some critical facts to consider;

  • If Metro Nashville Police show up in response to a domestic violence call , someone is going to be arrested no matter what a police investigation reveals.
  • During the change in the domestic violence docket Public defender stated at a meeting that 70 % of the domestic violence cases were dismissed.
  • Some people might be innocent of the charges.

The legislature must trust the courts to use their discretion in setting bond and the conditions of the bond like waiving the 12 hour hold. There can be no cookie cutter approach There used to be a concept of the separation of powers between the branches of government . For example , a person may be arrested days or weeks after the event  is still subject to a 12 hold.

Representative William Lamberth is sponsoring the bill in the house. To his credit , he has sought out discussion on the issue. Here is my solution to the 12 hour hold . If the arrest is made within 6 hours of the event , put the 12 hour hold into effect. After that time , there has been some time for a cooling off period which the statute intended. Better yet trust the judges to use their discretion. The voters trusted them to do their job. Most magistrates will seldom remove the 12 hour but don’t take away from the discretion of the courts when they are the ones that hear some facts of each and every case.


Here is my question to the members of the Tennessee State Legislature , would you be okay with your son or daughter being held in jail if they are not guilty of domestic violence.

You can check out the debate here via web cam.