Friday, December 03, 2010

8th Circuit: Religion Did Not Influence Trial Judge's Sentencing of Evangelist

In United States v. Hoffman, (8th Cir., Dec. 2, 2010), the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and 175 year sentence imposed on evangelist Tony Alamo for Mann Act violations. (See prior posting.) The court rejected Alamo's argument that his sentence was improperly influenced by religious factors.  In sentencing Alamo, the trial judge said: "Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher and greater judge than me. May he have mercy on your soul."  The Court of Appeals concluded, however: "Nothing suggests that the district court's personal view of religion in any way influenced an aspect of Hoffman's sentence."  It said that because religion pervaded the entire trial of the evangelist on charges of taking underage girls across state lines for the purpose of sex, "it is ... not surprising that religion might have been mentioned at sentencing." The Washington Post yesterday reported on the decision.