Wednesday 22 September 2021

Tennessee judges investigated for “trips” they took to Costa Rica

Nashville judges and attorneys traveled to Costa Rica, hired prostitutes and used marijuana

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(AP) – Two Tennessee judges investigated for trips they took to Costa Rica have been disciplined.

The Tennessean.com reports government travel records show Judges Aaron Holt and Monte Watkins were in Costa Rica at the same time as former judge Cason “Casey” Moreland , who’s now in prison for corruption charges.

Moreland told federal prosecutors that other Nashville judges and attorneys traveled with him, hired prostitutes and used marijuana. Prosecutors say the trips created “an atmosphere of cronyism and favoritism” in Moreland’s court.

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Nashville lawyer Brian Manookian filed complaints against Holt and Watkins before the state board of judicial conduct. Judge and board chair Dee David Gay wrote in a letter that the board took action, but didn’t specify the punishments.

Watkins and Holt have denied wrongdoing, but a letter sent to Manookian in June confirmed the board investigated the complaints and that “appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.”

The letter, sent by judge and board chair Dee David Gay, does not explain the extent of the disciplinary action. Tennessee law allows for a wide array of discipline against judges to remain secret.

Private reprimands and censures are allowed under law, although public reprimands and censures are occasionally issued.

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