I’ve been asked whether I will join the list of Councilmembers asking Judge Casey Moreland to step off the bench while the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct investigates recent allegations. I will not be taking a position on this – let me tell you why.
Since before I was elected in 2015, I have served as a hearing panelist for the state board that oversees the conduct of lawyers. When the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility charges a lawyer with breaking our ethical rules, the Board appoints a panel of three local lawyers to act as the judge. At any given time, I typically am serving as an appointed hearing panelist for two or three lawyer disciplinary cases.
In 2015, I was appointed to be a hearing panelist in a disciplinary case against Bryan Lewis. Judge Moreland was identified as a witness in that case. We were scheduled to begin a three-day hearing on February 13, 2017. The media has reported that the week before the hearing, the case was resolved when Mr. Lewis agreed to accept a “public censure.” My job in Mr. Lewis’s disciplinary case was to be impartial toward Mr. Lewis, the witnesses (including Judge Moreland), and the facts. Even though Mr. Lewis has accepted a public censure, I am obligated to maintain that impartiality.
According to media reports, the challenges facing Judge Moreland now are connected to Mr. Lewis, and are at least tangentially connected to the situation that led to Mr. Lewis’s disciplinary case. Because of my role as a hearing panelist in the Lewis case and the mandatory impartiality that goes along with that, I won’t have any comment about whether Judge Moreland should continue to serve as a judge in Nashville.