A grassroots organization focused on the intelligent and sustainable development, preservation and revitalization of Tulsa.
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
August 06, 2020, 09:59:26 am
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Go to Church or go to Prison  (Read 2323 times)
patric
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 7558


These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For


« on: November 21, 2012, 10:53:42 pm »

Constitution Experts Denounce Oklahoma Judge’s Sentencing of Youth to Church

Initially there was little outcry in Muskogee, Okla., last week when a judge, as a condition of a youth’s probation for a driving-related manslaughter conviction, sentenced him to attend church regularly for 10 years.

Judge Mike Norman, in his Muskogee courtroom, seemed surprised by the scrutiny. “I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that,” he said.

The judge, Mike Norman, 67, had sentenced people to church before, though never for such a serious crime.
But as word of the ruling spread in state and national legal circles, constitutional experts condemned it as a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state.

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union said it would file a complaint against Judge Norman with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, an agency that investigates judicial misconduct, seeking an official reprimand or other sanctions.
“We see a judge who has shown disregard for the First Amendment of the Constitution in his rulings,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the civil liberties union branch in Oklahoma.

The 17-year-old defendant, Tyler Alred, was prosecuted as a youthful offender, giving the judge more discretion than in an adult case. Mr. Alred pleaded guilty to manslaughter for an accident last year, when he ran his car into a tree and a 16-year-old passenger was killed.

Although his alcohol level tested below the legal limit, because he was under age he was legally considered to be under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Alred told the court that he was happy to agree to church attendance.  But his acquiescence does not change the law, Mr. Kiesel and others pointed out. “Alternative sentencing is something that should be encouraged, but there are many options that don’t violate the Constitution,” Mr. Kiesel said. “A choice of going to prison or to church — that is precisely the type of coercion that the First Amendment seeks to prevent.”

Mr. Alred and his family already attend a church, although Judge Norman said in an interview that he had not known that when he ruled.
The judge said he was surprised at the criticism. “I feel like church is important,” he said. “I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that.”

As for the constitutionality of his ruling, Judge Norman said, “I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.”
Judge Norman did not specify which religious denomination Mr. Alred must follow. But he also said: “I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”

Randall T. Coyne, a professor of criminal law at the University of Oklahoma, agreed that the judge’s church requirement was unconstitutional. But unless the defendant fights the ruling, he said, civil liberties advocates have no way to challenge it in court, leaving the complaint to the judicial review agency as their only option.

Over the years, several judges around the country have mandated church attendance as part of sentences, sometimes stirring criticism. In the early 1990s in Louisiana, Judge Thomas P. Quirk ordered hundreds of defendants in traffic and misdemeanor cases to attend church once a week for a year. The judge said that he had imposed the condition only on people who agreed to it, and that it provided a good alternative to sending defendants to overcrowded jails or imposing fines they could not afford.

The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana found that Judge Quirk had engaged in knowing violations of the Constitution and recommended that he be suspended without pay for 12 months. But the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that while the judge might have erred, he did not engage in “judicial misconduct,” and it rescinded the sanctions.

In 2011, the city of Bay Minette, Ala., required first-time misdemeanor offenders to choose between doing jail time and attending church weekly for a year. The city dropped the program after the American Civil Liberties Union called it unconstitutional.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/us/oklahoma-judges-sentencing-of-youth-to-church-stirs-criticism.html
Logged

"Tulsa will lay off police and firemen before we will cut back on unnecessarily wasteful streetlights."  -- March 18, 2009 TulsaNow Forum
Teatownclown
City Father
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 4121


Put the "fun" back into dysfunctional, Tulsa!


« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 11:24:20 pm »

Corporal punishment for the atheist....cruel and unusual.
Logged
guido911
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 12171



« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2012, 02:20:07 am »

I have had numerous cases before his Court and he is a terrific judge. And if the defendant doesn't complain, neither should anyone else except his constituents.
Logged

Someone get Hoss a pacifier.
custosnox
Fly in the Ointment
City Father
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3060



« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2012, 11:43:13 pm »

I have had numerous cases before his Court and he is a terrific judge. And if the defendant doesn't complain, neither should anyone else except his constituents.
I worry about the precedence it sets.
Logged
guido911
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 12171



« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012, 03:50:42 am »

I worry about the precedence it sets.

Don't worry. Waste of time even thinking about it unless the defendant objects.
Logged

Someone get Hoss a pacifier.
patric
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 7558


These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For


« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2012, 10:32:03 am »

I worry about the precedence it sets.

Exactly.  The Constitution isn't county-option.
Logged

"Tulsa will lay off police and firemen before we will cut back on unnecessarily wasteful streetlights."  -- March 18, 2009 TulsaNow Forum
Ed W
City Father
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2940



« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2012, 11:41:03 am »

The judge is using the power of the state to impose a religious viewpoint on an offender.  If he forced the defendant to attend a mosque, I expect there would be tremendous opposition, but it's equally wrong.
Logged

Ed

May you live in interesting times.
ZYX
Philanthropist
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 920


« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2012, 11:32:06 pm »

The judge is using the power of the state to impose a religious viewpoint on an offender.  If he forced the defendant to attend a mosque, I expect there would be tremendous opposition, but it's equally wrong.

Although I highly disagree with the sentencing, and wonder how it would be enforced in the first place, the judge did not specify a religious affiliation. He only ruled that the defendant attend church for ten years.
Logged
guido911
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 12171



« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2012, 12:47:05 pm »

The judge is using the power of the state to impose a religious viewpoint on an offender.  If he forced the defendant to attend a mosque, I expect there would be tremendous opposition, but it's equally wrong.
Well, the problem is that this defendant wasn't sentenced to attend a mosque, although I guess if the kid was a Muslim that could have been his option. I also have yet to hear a complaint from this defendant.

As my grandma used to say, "tend to your own knitting". Way to much hand wringing over this, especially by all these new civil libertarians that have surfaced in this forum.
Logged

Someone get Hoss a pacifier.
nathanm
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 8240


« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 02:48:49 pm »

I always thought the enlistment option was a good one. Serve your country or serve your time. No hairy first amendment issues with that one.
Logged

"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration" --Abraham Lincoln
Red Arrow
T-Town Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 10357


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2012, 02:58:18 pm »

I always thought the enlistment option was a good one. Serve your country or serve your time. No hairy first amendment issues with that one.

I have mixed feelings on that option.  I personally know a few people that the military helped get their lives in order.  I also met some people in the Navy that I wouldn't want to depend on in any situation. 
Logged

 
Ed W
City Father
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2940



« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 03:39:23 pm »

Well, the problem is that this defendant wasn't sentenced to attend a mosque, although I guess if the kid was a Muslim that could have been his option. I also have yet to hear a complaint from this defendant.

As my grandma used to say, "tend to your own knitting". Way to much hand wringing over this, especially by all these new civil libertarians that have surfaced in this forum.

Okay, who are you and what did you do with the real Guido?  You know, the hard core conservative who opposes over-reaching governmental power. 
Logged

Ed

May you live in interesting times.
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

 
  Hosted by TulsaConnect and Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
 

Mission

 

"TulsaNow's Mission is to help Tulsa become the most vibrant, diverse, sustainable and prosperous city of our size. We achieve this by focusing on the development of Tulsa's distinctive identity and economic growth around a dynamic, urban core, complemented by a constellation of livable, thriving communities."
more...

 

Contact

 

2210 S Main St.
Tulsa, OK 74114
(918) 409-2669
info@tulsanow.org