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ACLU files judicial complaint over Oklahoma teen’s church sentence

A complaint has been filed against an eastern Oklahoma district judge who sentenced a teenager to attend church for 10 years as a condition of parole.

BY RANDY ELLIS Published: December 5, 2012

He said the ACLU of Oklahoma is not recommending a particular disciplinary action against Norman.

Eric Mitts, director of the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints, said he is not at liberty to discuss whether a complaint has been received.

When the council receives a complaint, it conducts an investigation, Mitts said. It can then either dismiss the complaint or recommend disciplinary action to the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Discipline can range from a private counseling session by the chief justice to a hearing before the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary that can lead to removal from office.

“We implore the council to consider all of its disciplinary options, keeping an eye towards a remedy that will discourage Judge Norman from subsequent actions and that sets an example for other jurists that such blatant disregard for the constitutions of Oklahoma and the United States cannot be tolerated and is manifestly inconsistent with the integrity of the judiciary,” Kiesel wrote in the complaint.

Judge Norman did not return telephone messages for comment Tuesday afternoon.

He told a Tulsa World reporter a couple of weeks ago that he stood by his decision; even though he had received a couple out-of-state telephone calls contending the sentence violated the U.S. Constitution.

“They may well be right, but that’s what I did, and we made a record,” he said at the time.

Norman noted there were other conditions of Alred’s probation, such as wearing an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption, undergoing drug and alcohol assessments, graduating from high school and welding school, attending victim-impact panels and speaking on the consequences of drinking and driving.

Alred’s attorney, Donn Baker, said earlier that the sentence was unusual, but he didn’t intend to challenge it.

“My client goes to church every Sunday,” Baker told the Tulsa World. “That isn’t going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him.”

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