The ACLU has filed a complaint against an Oklahoma judge for
sentencing a 17-year-old to ten years of church attendance. But one
attorney feels "there's more here than meets the eye."
Muskogee County District Judge Mike Norman presided over the
case of Tyler Alred -- the driver in an alcohol-related accident
that killed his 16-year-old passenger. Church attendance was
extended as a condition of probation, and the American Civil
Liberties Union is crying foul.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow a judge has to
be careful with issuing such a sentence because problems could
"The ACLU's complaint has some obvious truth in it," he admits.
"But on the other hand, there may be some other matters that
ultimately justify why the judge chose this particular route." For
example, a church could have a program successful with turning
troubled youth around, or a drug/alcohol program that has proven
But Staver points out that the ACLU omits that type of
information because "they want to sensationalize this entire
issue." Meanwhile, he stresses that prison does not usually reform
people, so judges are turning to alternative methods of addressing
"This may be certainly one of those areas depending upon all the
facts of the circumstances, and obviously here we've got someone
who is not disagreeing with this particular sentence, is actually
voluntarily going along with it," the Liberty Counsel founder
notes. "So, there's more here than meets the eye with regards to
the ACLU's media press release."
The ACLU's complaint states in part that Judge Norman violated
Oklahoma's Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to
"uphold and apply the law." So, he supposedly disregarded
fundamental principles of religious liberty found in the
Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First
Amendment, as well as guarantees of religious liberty found in the
The liberal legal group hopes its action against Judge Norman's
decision will discourage other judges from issuing similar