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ACLU files complaint after teen sentenced to church in manslaughter case

The ACLU of Oklahoma filed a complaint Tuesday against a judge who made required church attendance part of a teenager's sentence for manslaughter.

TulsaWorld.com reports 17-year-old Tyler Alred was sentenced to 10 years of probation after he pled guilty to manslaughter as a youthful offender in connection with an alcohol-related crash that killed 16-year-old John Luke Dum. 

Muskogee County District Judge Mike Norman made mandatory church attendance for 10 years part of Alred's requirements to avoid prison. Alred must also wear an ankle bracelet that monitors alcohol consumption, attend victim-impact panels and speak at events about the consequences of drinking and driving, among other requirements. 

The ACLU argues in their complaint that Norman's ruling violates the Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct because the decision disregards America's principles of religious liberty.

"We didn't file this complaint lightly," said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma tells TulsaWorld.com. "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."

However, Alred's defense attorney has said his client did not have an issue with his sentence.

"My client goes to church every Sunday," Donn Baker said according to TulsaWorld.com. "That isn't going to be a problem for him. We certainly want the probation for him."

The Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints now must decide what action, if any, will be taken against Norman. Punishments range from a letter of reprimand to losing a seat on the bench.

Click for more from TulsaWorld.com. 

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