Davidson County Clerk Admits Mistakes Were Made With Bricen Rivers’ Release

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF-TV) — Davidson County Chief Deputy Clerk Julius Sloss admits his office made a mistake.

Julius Sloss said NewsChannel 5 investigates who spent days investigating what went wrong with Bricen Rivers’ release from the Davidson County Jail, when they noticed something.

The documents sent by his office did not include all of the bail conditions or instructions on how to handle Rivers’ release.

Had jail officials seen these conditions, they would have known that a judge ordered Rivers released only to his bail bond company, where they made sure he was fitted with a GPS device.

Instead, Rivers is scheduled to be released from prison on June 24, without any supervision.

The same man who is now in a Mississippi jail for the murder of Lauren Johanson.

A man whose release Lauren’s father once warned the courts should not be released, because he believed her life would be at risk.

Rivers was charged with murder just days after Johanson’s body was discovered beaten and wrapped in garbage bags.

Harrison County sheriff’s deputies say it took another six hours to finally arrest Rivers, who had been hiding in the woods nearby.

“It’s tragic what happened,” Sloss said.

Sloss says that while these types of mistakes rarely happen in his office, the responsibility begins with him.

Her office was in charge of transmitting Judge Cheryl Blackburn’s orders to the jail before Rivers could be released.

Sloss says the employee who made the mistake will face disciplinary action, though he did not specify what that might entail.

For now, Sloss says, the goal is to find ways to limit human error as much as possible.

“We’ve already talked to our IT staff about what we can change or code into the system to stop the person when they’re creating the bail bond release that’s going to be sent to the sheriff. Something that stops them and asks them the questions: Are you sure there are no conditions? Are you sure all the conditions have been included in this release?” Sloss said.

Brooke’s Bonding Company eventually fitted Rivers with a Freedom Monitoring GPS monitoring device on the same day Rivers was released.

They say Rivers was released late, so they turned to a different GPS monitoring company than the one listed on Judge Blackburn’s order.

Freedom Monitoring later sent the courts a statement saying they only received a copy of the order four days after installing Rivers’ GPS device.

They say that’s why they had no reason to challenge Rivers when he said he planned to return to Mississippi, even though he was not allowed to leave Davidson County.

Brooke’s Bonding knew about all of these conditions and signed these documents, so it remains unclear how any of this was conveyed to Freedom Monitoring.

“Now there’s a discussion to be had about what can be improved from the other agencies’ perspective, but as I mentioned, we’re going to put in place as many interim measures as possible from our end to make sure that kind of mistake doesn’t happen on our end,” Sloss said.

Sloss says he has already participated in meetings to discuss changes to how bond terms are communicated more effectively. Some of those meetings focused on new legislation that went into effect in July.

While some may feel that Nashville failed Lauren Johanson and that no amount of change will bring her back, Sloss hopes these are mistakes all cities can learn from.

“Please understand that we are working every day to try to make sure that our office is not susceptible to making a mistake that could lead to a tragedy like this,” Sloss said.

Sloss also recommends a standardized system for all judges, so that these release orders are the same and everyone knows what to look for.

He also says he plans to sit down with the sheriff’s office and the district attorney’s office to improve communication about these bail orders.