District Judge Mike Norman is in trouble with the ACLU for requiring ten years of church attendance as part of teenager Tyler Alred’s deferred sentence for DUI manslaughter. (See original posting on this story here.) The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has filed a complaint with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, accusing Norman of violating the Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct by infringing on religious liberty. The executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, Ryan Kiesel, criticized Judge Norman on his actions.
“We believe in a strong and independent judiciary. For us to come to this conclusion really speaks to the level of disregard that Judge Norman has showed towards the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of Oklahoma,” Kiesel said.
Tyler Alred was allowed to decide between church and prison. Alred’s defense attorney Donn Baker said, “My client goes to church every Sunday. That isn’t going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him.”
In November, Norman admitted that his ruling may have been unconstitutional, but he was going to wait and see if he would get away with it. “I received a couple of bad calls – one from Oregon and one from Missouri – telling me it was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. They may well be right, but that’s what I did and we made a record,” Norman said. Then he added, “If someone wants to appeal my decision, they’re entitled to do that.”
On Tuesday, the ACLU took him up on his offer.