Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Judge Boyle tough -- but not always

Most folks I know think former House Speaker Jim Black won’t be any better off with a different federal judge than he was with U.S. District Judge James Dever. Judge Terry Boyle, who will handle Black’s sentencing, is known as a tough, no-nonsense judge. But then there’s the Jerry Gaskill case. More about that in a moment.
Black’s lawyer Ken Bell recently asked Dever to remove himself from the case because he once handled a lawsuit against then-Speaker Black and other state leaders over redistricting. Dever rejected the argument he was in any way biased against Black, but stepped aside anyway so that Black can go ahead and be sentenced without more delay.
The conventional wisdom is that Dever’s replacement in this case, Boyle, will be just as tough on Black as Dever would have been. (Dever had made it clear that he might sentence Black to a longer prison term than federal sentencing law normally provides for the crime of accepting illegal payments. It was part of a bribe scheme the government says Black engaged in to stay in power.)
I’ve sat in Judge Boyle’s courtroom a number of times and found him to be fair, firm and direct. I think the only bias he has is in upholding the law as he sees fit. His well-known independence has confounded observers who thought he would rule one way and were surprised when he ruled another in some civil cases and at least one criminal case.
I’d guess Judge Boyle will do about the same thing Judge Dever would have done in Black’s case. I think there’s a long prison term in his future.
But it’s also worth noting that in one recent high-profile case, Boyle did not throw the book at the defendants. When Judge Boyle sentenced former N.C. Ferry Division chief Jerry Gaskill and former dredging superintendent Billy Moore in an illegal dredging case in Currituck County, Gaskill and Moore got off light.
Gaskill had been convicted of making a false statement during the investigation and Moore pleaded guilty to ordering the dredging. It involved creating an illegal channel on the other side of Currituck Sound to create a passenger terminal to ferry students across the sound on a daily basis. There was all sorts of speculation about political involvement. After all, the 2002 General Assembly had ordered a feasibility study for a ferry operation to cut school travel time by boating 12 miles across the sound to Corolla.
But none of that came out in court. When Gaskill and Moore came before Judge Boyle in March, he sentenced them not to the two years of active prison time most folks expected them to get. Instead, he put them on probation for three years, gave them six months of house arrest, ordered them to serve 50 hours of community service and fined them $5,000 each.
This case won’t have any bearing on the fate of Jim Black, of course, and shouldn’t. But it’s an interesting departure from what most folks thought Judge Boyle would do in what, for a while, was a high-profile criminal case in northeastern North Carolina.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The dredging deal is totally different then accepting cash bribes in a restroom. Can one send a letter to the judge concerning the case. Black deserves the maximum sentence, and I hope he is sent to Marion Ill, but I know that won't happen.

Anonymous said...

If Black is a MASON he will walk right out the back door , they always do; We Know he's in the Southern good ole boy system thats enough to get a man off with murder; Alls it takes is a flash of a MASONS diamiond ring and your out ; I think Black was set up like always down here .

Anonymous said...

If Jim Black was a YANKEE he'd get the electric chair. Mr. Pope would see ta that.

Anonymous said...

SHOULDDNT MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE.. YOU DO THE CRIME YOU DO THE TIME..IF EVERYTHING THAT BLACK DID CAME OUT TO THE PUBLIC HE WOULD GO TO THE POKEY FOR LIFE.

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