Judicial Commissioner Who Went Soft on Justin Jones Made Another Mistake in 2014


Four years ago, Nashville Judicial Commissioner Carolyn Piphus reportedly allowed a hate crime suspect to leave jail even though the man allegedly violated his parole and was supposed to remain behind bars.

Piphus, of course, is the same judicial commissioner who refused to issue an arrest warrant to Justin Jones, the man who disrupted an October 28 Marsha Blackburn rally in Nashville.

Subsequently, the office of Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk asked a judge to issue an arrest warrant for Jones on charges of criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. Jones was arrested and faces a December court date.

According to the June 4, 2014 edition of The Tennessean, the suspect in the earlier case, William Eugene Massey, went missing after posting bail. Authorities charged Massey with beating a gay man at a convenience store on Dickerson Pike.

According to the paper, the beating was caught on video. The victim reportedly needed 13 stitches and was likely to have a permanent scar.

Massey had a lengthy arrest record, with convictions for drug, firearm, and aggravated assault offenses. Massey was still on parole when he attacked the unidentified gay man, the paper reported.

Police reportedly tracked him down four days later and arrested him on an aggravated assault charge. Massey, however, bonded out of jail before his parole officer could have held him on a parole violation warrant.

“The night commissioner who allowed Massey to post bond, Carolyn Piphus, didn’t know that he was even on parole,” The Tennessean reported.

“She did not have any information presented to her that said that Mr. Massey was on parole. All she had was the new charge of assault.”

The Tennessean asked why Piphus “didn’t look Massey up in a database to see if he was on parole.”

Court officials then admitted they didn’t have such a database, nor did they have a support staff to do thorough background checks on everyone that comes before them, according to the paper.

Piphus did not return The Tennessee Star’s repeated requests for comment.

No Google search results revealed what became of Massey.

As for what happened this past weekend, no information was available as to why Piphus wouldn’t issue an arrest warrant to Jones on charges of criminal trespassing, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said the video and photographic evidence clearly shows Jones resisting arrest and physically assaulting those attending the event and fighting with the police officer.

“The fact that the judicial commissioner refused to issue the warrants requested by the police officer raises a serious question about whether she was motivated by partisan political considerations,”  Gill said.

“Is there a blue thumb being placed on the scales of justice in Nashville courts?” Gill asked.

“It is hard to believe that a conservative Republican engaging with a police officer in this same way would be given a get out of jail free card by Ms. Piphus or any other judicial commissioner. The General Sessions judges who oversee her and the District Attorney need to carefully review the way this case was handled.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]









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  1. […] The latest article against Justin, is more an attack on the African-American judge who handled the case then on him personally. In Justin Jones Facebook posting, he even mentioned that The Tennessee Star exposed personal information regarding his grandmother. […]