An Oklahoma District Court judge named Mike Norman sentenced a 17-year-old defendant to attend church for 10 years. Norman has admitted to sentencing other defendants to church during his tenure.
The ruling came down in Muskogee, Oklahoma where Norman has been the District Judge for 10 years and has ruled on thousands of cases. In this particular case defendant Tyler Alred plead guilty in Norman's courtroom to manslaughter. Alred hit a tree and later tested positive for alcohol in his system.
It has been reported by The New York Times that Alred agreed to the judge's terms in open court. Alred's agreement has two implications. The first is that he was facing a possible 10 year prison sentence, and likely would have agreed to anything to avoid incarceration. Secondly, just because Alred agreed to the terms does not make it constitutional.
The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties union has publicly spoke out against Judge Norman's ruling, and they have filed with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints.
As of this writing the ruling made in Judge Norman's courtroom stands. The judge himself was confused by the public outcry. He said, “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.”
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