Court records: Judge Moreland intervened in future son-in-law's - WSMV News 4

Court records: Judge Moreland intervened in future son-in-law's DUI case

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Embattled General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland faces questions about preferential treatment involving his future son-in-law.

According to an arrest report, a man in a black Toyota 4Runner drove the wrong way onto Interstate 40, heading east in the westbound lane the night of Oct. 30, 2015.

A Metro police officer managed to get the driver safely off the interstate and into a nearby parking lot.

Police said the driver, 26-year-old Christopher Plattenburg, admitted to drinking that night. When the officer asked how impaired Plattenburg might be on a scale of one to 10, he reportedly answered “one-thousand-two.”

Records show Plattenburg’s blood was drawn at General Hospital to test for alcohol. He was then taken to jail and booked for DUI. It would be his second drunk driving arrest in two years.

A second-offense DUI carries serious consequences in Tennessee. The law calls for jail time starting at 45 days up to just shy of a year and a mandatory fine of $600 to $3,500. Offenders can lose their license for two years and their vehicle altogether. There’s a mandatory alcohol and drug treatment program and the judge can order an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle at their expense.

Court records show that after getting out of jail on his own recognizance, Plattenburg first appeared before Judge Moreland in early January 2016, three months after his arrest. The judge continued the case until March.

Ultimately, Judges Gale Robinson and Aaron Holt took over and allowed Plattenburg to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless endangerment.

According to court records, Plattenburg agree to a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days, a fine of $350, an alcohol counseling class, 60 hours of public service work, 10 days in jail, and the installation of an interlock device.

In an undated order signed by Judge Robinson, the court declared Plattenburg indigent, waiving his court costs and probation feeds.

A document with Moreland’s typed name but signed by Judge Holt appears to strike the interlock device.

A month later, an email from the sheriff’s office to the criminal court clerk recalled the committal on Plattenburg, effectively waiving the 10 days in jail as “time served,” per Judge Moreland.

The Channel 4 I-Team found Plattenburg spent three hours and 21 minutes in jail the night he was arrested.

The timing of every decision in this case is critical considering the fact that Plattenburg is now engaged to marry Moreland’s daughter.

According to the couple’s online bridal registry, they began dating in December 2015, less than two months after Plattenburg’s DUI arrest.

By the time the case started moving through the courts, they were a couple and have been dating steadily ever since.

After his plea bargain in March and Moreland’s forgiveness of his jail time in April, Plattenburg apparently “asked Casey” that summer for his daughter’s hand.

Plattenburg proposed last October. A wedding is planned for November of this year.

The I-Team brought the file to the attention of the district attorney’s office. District Attorney General Glenn Funk said they had no idea jail time had been erased.

“These facts are very disturbing,” Funk said in a statement. “Our office was unaware that the negotiated disposition of the case was altered without notice to the State. The State has a right to be heard on any sentenced matter. Generally, this office does not oppose judicial waiver of fines and costs for indigent defendants. However, when a defendant seeks waiver of a specifically negotiated probation requirement such as installation of an interlock device, then the State must be given notice of this application. For a judge to waive service of an agreed upon jail sentence without notice to the State is improper. Given that this defendant appears to have a personal connection to the judge, the actions are even more concerning.”

Funk went on to say, “I shared this information with federal authorities who are investigating Judge Casey Moreland. At this time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked me to defer to their investigation.”

The I-Team asked the court system whether Plattenburg performed the 60 hours of community service and alcohol class he agreed to. We did not have an answer by deadline on Monday. That matter is reportedly being reviewed by the legal department.

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