Judge Simpson:
keeping the texts straight

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There are two large batches of text messages at issue in Judge Cedric Simpson’s case:



Nassif’s texts: Nader Walid Nassif is an attorney and former Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member who resigned in 2013 after being arrested on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana and possession of ecstasy. He eventually pled no contest to drug possession charges and a count of felonious assault and was not sentenced to jail.

During the investigation, Ann Arbor police seized Nassif’s phone and the 80,000 text messages on it as evidence. As the presiding district court judge in the case, Cedric Simpson was responsible for sorting the texts to find which ones indicated a prosecutable offense, which ones were subject to attorney-client privilege and so on. Simpson’s intern, law student Crystal Vargas, worked on the Nassif texts with Simpson.



During Simpson’s Judicial Tenure Commision hearing, Nassif’s texts were entered into the record. Through the Freedom of Information Act, MLive.com requested those texts that were between Nassif and his friend, Christopher Easthope, the 15th District Court judge. A 386-page redacted document revealed Easthope talking about fellow officers of the court while a hearing was in progress and Nassif chatting about mutual drug use, among other things. Easthope resigned from his post the day after the texts were released.

Simpson’s texts: During the Judicial Tenure Commission’s review of a complaint against Judge Cedric Simpson, records subpeonaed from cell-phone carriers indicated the judge and his intern, Crystal Vargas, exchanged 14,000 text messages over four months. Simpson explains the hefty volume of texts as resulting from the two working on the voluminous Nassif case and his effort to help Vargas with an allegedly violent boyfriend.

Jim McBee

Founding partner, creative director and ink-stained wretch with The Ann magazine.