ACLU Files Complaint Against Church Ordering Judge - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

ACLU Files Complaint Against Church Ordering Judge

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With a guilty plea to manslaughter, 17 year-old Tyler Alred faced the possibility of going to prison for a very long time. But the judge came up with something different.

"We encourage alternative sentencing at the ACLU, we think that's a good thing," said ACLU executive director Ryan Kiesel.

But when judge Mike Norman ordered Tyler to attend church for the next 10 years, the ACLU saw that as a bad thing.

"That is a blatant violation of the first amendment of the united states constitution," he said.

Neither Tyler nor his family, appealed the judges decision, which was no surprise to the ACLU.

"You have a defendant who has a choice between possibly a harsher sentence which could include prison and going to church and probation, you know, that's I don't fault them at all for not walking away from that decision," said Kiesel.

Which leaves the ACLU simply filing a complaint with a judicial council strenuously voicing their concerns.

"For a judge to so flagrantly disregard the very founding principals of religious liberty that are in our legal documents is incredibly shocking and troubling," he said.

Judge Norman declined an interview on the complaint saying he wanted to see if he needed a lawyer. As to the sentencing, he said he "had no idea it would be controversial."

"If this young man stops going to church tomorrow or decides to go to a different church and the judge isn't happy with that, and the judge tries to enforce that, the judge is going to find that the young man can not be forced to go to church," said Kiesel.

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