Legal expert: Judge Moreland's texts from the bench raise concer - WSMV News 4

Legal expert: Judge Moreland's texts from the bench raise concerns

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Judge Casey Moreland (WSMV file photo) Judge Casey Moreland (WSMV file photo)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Text messages sent from Judge Casey Moreland while he was on the bench, referring to defendants as “hos” and “junkies,” raise concerns for one of the nation’s foremost experts on judicial ethics.

The text messages came between Moreland and Natalie Amos, who the Channel 4 I-Team found received assistance from Moreland both during a traffic stop and to erase traffic fines.

Many of the texts cannot be reprinted because of sexually explicit content.

But in our review of thousands of text message, the I-Team came upon texts Moreland sent Amos while he was in court for cases of human trafficking, prostitution and drug addiction.

In one series of texts, Amos sent a Bitmoji telling Moreland to pay attention to her.

He responds in a text reading, “Just been working! Sorry! My hos in court keep me busy.”

It’s a derogatory term that Moreland used in another text, where he wrote to Amos, “Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my busy days! Hos and junkies!”

The I-Team showed the texts as well as all our previous investigations to Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Charlie Geyh, a Carnegie fellow who has testified before the U.S. Senate as an expert on judicial ethics.

"If you're using disparaging terms to characterize people who appear before you on a pretty regular basis, it suggests you harbor a bias against them that calls your impartiality into question,” Geyh said.

The I-Team showed him how repeatedly, Moreland texted Amos for personal reasons while he was holding court, including cases where he was listening to information about a wire tape and on a cocaine case.

At one point, Moreland sent her a picture of the defendants before him.

"The business of being on the telephone, in the middle of court proceedings, is itself a problem," Geyh said.

We also showed Geyh our investigation into Moreland’s involvement in Amos’ ticket and fines.

"I think it's still very problematic,” he said. “Judges need to be mindful of the power they exercise and not to use that power for their own personal advantage."

After reviewing our investigations, Geyh said it is time for Moreland to rethink his career.

"If all that is reported is true, this may not be a judge who is well suited for the bench. I think the best bet is to step down,” Geyh said.

In the preamble of the Tennessee Judicial Code, it reads, “Judges should maintain the dignity of judicial office at all times, and avoid both impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives.”

In the attempt to once more try to speak with Judge Moreland, the I-Team sent two emails, containing all of the texts, to Moreland’s attorney. We are still waiting to hear back.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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