RESOLUTION NO. RS2017-642
A resolution calling for the resignation of General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland.
WHEREAS, recent investigations by WSMV-TV have prompted serious and substantial concerns regarding the judicial conduct and ethical behavior of Judge Casey Moreland of Division X of the General Sessions Courts. Most recently, WSVM-TV uncovered a series of text messages from Judge Moreland wherein he referred to defendants in his courtroom as “hos” and “junkies”, used sexually explicit vulgar language, and submitted photographs of defendants appearing before him in court to others via text -- all of which transpired during formal court proceedings; and
WHEREAS, a judicial ethics expert interviewed by WSVM-TV stated that the use of disparaging terms to characterize those appearing in court before a judge indicates bias and a lack of impartiality; and
WHEREAS, these lapses in judgment are alone sufficient to warrant calls for resignation or removal of any judge; but these are not the first occasions upon which Judge Moreland’s conduct has raised serious ethical concerns and prompted formal review; and
WHEREAS, in 2016, Judge Moreland traveled to Alabama on a vacation trip with a friend, attorney Bryan Lewis, and others -- including 34-year old Leigh Terry, who was subsequently found dead in an apartment owned by Mr. Lewis one week after returning from the vacation;
WHEREAS, witnesses subsequently interviewed by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department during the investigation described a sexual relationship between Judge Moreland and Ms. Terry, prompted by a pending DUI charge against Ms. Terry in March 2013. Judge Moreland denied involvement in Ms. Terry’s criminal charges, but court records indicate he had signed forms confirming probation for Ms. Terry despite her failure to serve the jail term ordered by another judge, and had further excused her from drug screens while on probation; and
WHEREAS, the WSMV-TV report also showed that on June 16, 2016, another woman who claimed a sexual relationship with Judge Moreland -- Natalie Amos -- had received assistance from Judge Moreland who intervened on her behalf during a traffic stop by a Metropolitan police officer; and
WHEREAS, according to the WSMV-TV report, Metro Police patrol officer Michael Douglas had stopped Ms. Amos for driving with expired tags and without a seatbelt when, according to text messages provided by Ms. Amos to WSVM-TV, Judge Moreland intervened to allow Ms. Amos to drive away and later assisted in erasing Ms. Amos’ traffic fines; and
WHEREAS, the WSMV-TV report further reported subsequent text messages between Judge Moreland and Ms. Amos describing a lurid sexual encounter between the two in Judge Moreland’s chambers after the traffic stop, followed by sexually graphic text messages the following day; and
WHEREAS, these incidents and the WSMV-TV investigations have raised serious concerns regarding Judge Moreland’s judicial conduct and have prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to announce an investigation into the judicial conduct of Judge Moreland; and
WHEREAS, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct announced on February 16, 2017 that it is likewise investigating the ethical conduct of Casey Moreland; and
WHEREAS, before these episodes, Judge Moreland’s prior conduct and courtroom behavior suggested ethically dubious conduct on other occasions; and
WHEREAS, on June 8, 2014, Judge Moreland, overrode a night commissioner's 12-hour hold upon a domestic assault defendant who had been arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Shortly after his release, the defendant returned to assault his ex-girlfriend again. Judge Moreland had overridden the 12-hour hold after receiving a Sunday morning call from the defendant’s attorney, Bryan Lewis. The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded Judge Moreland in 2014 for improperly intervening in this domestic violence case; and
WHEREAS, in 2006, upon learning that he would be unopposed in his campaign for re-election, Judge Moreland dismissed 72 out of 74 traffic tickets scheduled for hearing on his docket, including a ticket issued to Jimmy Naifeh, Speak of the House of the Tennessee General Assembly; and
WHEREAS, in 1998, a WTVF-Channel 5 story revealed that Judge Moreland’s employees and court officers were collecting salaries despite not appearing at work. News footage depicted Judge Moreland’s employees golfing and engaged in other personal business during work hours. The investigation was prompted by complaints from the Davidson County Probation Department; and
WHEREAS, based upon his inexcusable acts of malfeasance, it is in the best interest of the Metropolitan Government that Casey Moreland resign his position as Judge for Division X of the General Sessions Court; and
WHEREAS, section 14.08 of the Metropolitan Charter provides that judges of the General Sessions court shall be subject to removal from office as prescribed by law for circuit judges and chancellors; and
WHEREAS, Section 6 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee provides that Judges for the State may be removed from office by a concurrent vote of both Houses of the General Assembly, each House voting separately; but two-thirds of the members to which each House may be entitled must concur in such vote; and
WHEREAS, avoiding a protracted and burdensome removal process is in the best interest of the citizens and taxpayers of Nashville and Davidson County, and Casey Moreland should therefore resign immediately to prevent the further expenditure of valuable state and local resources in seeking his removal; and
WHEREAS, action should nevertheless be taken for the removal of Casey Moreland in accordance with state law if he refuses to resign his position as General Sessions judge.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:
Section 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as calling for the resignation of General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland.
Section 2. If Casey Moreland refuses to immediately resign his position as General Sessions judge, the Metropolitan County Council further goes on record as requesting the initiation of removal proceedings against him in accordance with state law.
Section 3. That the Metropolitan Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Resolution to General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland and to the members of the Davidson County delegation to the Tennessee General Assembly.
Section 4. That this Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.
Sponsored by: Jeremy Elrod, Jacobia Dowell, Dave Rosenberg, Angie Henderson, Davette Blalock, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Freddie O'Connell, Brenda Haywood, DeCosta Hastings, Mina Johnson, Sheri Weiner, Nancy VanReece
|Referred to:||Rules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee|
|Introduced:||April 4, 2017|
|Withdrawn:||April 4, 2017|
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