Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) has twice given the order to remove Occupy Nashville protesters camped out in Legislative Plaza near the Capitol, only to see it denied by judicial commissioner Tom Nelson. In Tennessee, a judicial commissioner has the authority to determine if crimes have been committed.
“The magistrate’s position is sort of a safety valve to prevent overzealous officers from putting people in jail for no reason,” Nashville attorney Jim Todd told the Associated Press.
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Nelson ordered the release of 29 protesters arrested last Thursday because “the state had not given the protesters adequate notice that it was changing the rules.”
Nelson explained in an email to Davidson County’s General Sessions judges that the protesters had been camping on Legislative Plaza for three weeks with no indication that this could be considered criminal activity, and that “fourteen hours is woefully inadequate time within which to allow the group an opportunity to comply with the newly enacted rules, regulations, curfew and permit requirements.’’