Judge, after referencing Bible, reprimanded by appellate court | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Judge, after referencing Bible, reprimanded by appellate court

Posted by on Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM

A Catawba County trial judge has been scolded by the N.C. Court of Appeals for invoking Christian teachings into a lecture during a defendant's sentencing phase.

In its opinion released yesterday, however, the court ruled that the judge's word choice did not violate the due process of the defendant, Max Earls, who was sentenced to 45-55 years in prison for sexually abusing his children. 

State case law deems that if a judge considers irrelevant and improper material in determining  a sentence, it would violate the defendant's rights. Earls cited that case law in his appeal from a trial last year. During the sentencing phase, Superior Court Judge Richard D. Boner told Earls:

"I think children are a gift of God, and I think God expects when he gives us these gifts that we will treat them as more precious than gold, that we will keep them safe from harm the best as we're able and nurture them, and the child holds a special place in this world. In the 19th chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples, 'suffer the little children, to come unto me, forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of heaven.' And the law in North Carolina, and as it is in most states, treats sexual abuse of children as one of the most serious crimes a person can commit, and rightfully so, because the damage that's inflicted in these cases is incalculable. It's murder of the human spirit in a lot of ways. I'm going to enter a judgement in just a moment. But some day you're going to stand before another judge far greater then me, and you're going to have to answer to him why you violated his law, and I hope you're ready when that day comes."

In its ruling yesterday the appellate judges called Boner out for using religious references. Ultimately, however, they ruled that Boner was not using his personal religious views as the basis for his sentencing, and thus did not violate Earls' due process.

"Nevertheless," wrote the appellate judges, citing additional case law, "we remind trial courts that 'judges must take care to avoid using language that could give rise to an appearance that improper factors have played a role in the judge's decision-making process even when they have not.' " 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Most Recent Comments

@jerryg so if the mayor has no power why should we vote then?

by snake00 on Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes (News)

Cora landed the endorsements of the Durham Committee (DC) and the Friends (FD) for 10,400 votes.
Huggins with the DC …

by Frank Hyman on Cole-McFadden Survives Durham Council Primary, Moffitt Does Not (News)

Cora landed the endorsements of the Durham Committee (DC) and the Friends (FD) for 10,400 votes.
Huggins with the DC …

by Frank Hyman on Durham's Next Mayor Will Be Steve Schewel or Farad Ali (News)

Just because one of our two newly elected Council members is pro-neighborhood and natural resources, it does not qualify her …

by Meredith de la Vergne on Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation