Recovery courts are meant to help addicts address substance abuse issues and stay out of jail. A judge oversees the proceedings with frequent court appearances and substance abuse monitoring. The courts that run recovery court programs often get hefty grants from taxpayers in the hopes of reducing the overall costs to run the justice system.
However, one Nashville judge may have used recovery court funds for his own benefit. Authorities say that the judge may have taken over $6,000 from the drug court fund in order to bribe a woman. The woman made allegations against him. The judge offered to pay the money through a third party in order to ask the woman to change her story.
The judge, Cason Moreland, is facing charges of obstruction of justice with bribery and witness tampering. He appeared in a court hearing in handcuffs. He says that he understands the charges that he’s facing.
Authorities say that he had a sexual relationship with the woman. They say that the judge tried to help her avoid paying fines and costs that she owed to the court. The woman told a Nashville television station all about it.
The judge’s mistress leaked text messages between the two. The texts show that the judge helped the woman avoid a traffic ticket and that the judge also had sex with the woman. The judge talked about setting the woman up with planted drugs in order to throw the media off the case and cast doubt on the woman’s story. He also wanted to pay her money in order to change her story. Police say they even saw the pile of money that he wanted to pay to the woman.
The judge went so far as to get a burner phone in order to cover his tracks. He registered the phone under a fake name. An informant with the FBI gathered the evidence. FBI officials say that it’s a terrible miscarriage of justice that a judge tried to use his powers to set someone up with a criminal offense.
His defense attorney says he’s innocent until proven guilty. However, federal authorities think that he’s a flight risk. The judge says that his service has been good for the community in his work with recovery court.
A board of Tennessee judges previously reprimanded the judge for intervening in a domestic violence case by releasing someone from jail before staying the mandatory 12-hour period required under Tennessee law. The judge also admitted to dismissing tickets for friends of the right people. He also used court employees to perform personal work at his home.