Local News

Suspended Durham magistrate served jail time in Michigan

Posted May 23, 2011

— A suspended Durham County magistrate served time in a Michigan jail in the mid-1980s for breaking and entering, according to records obtained by WRAL News.

Magistrate Sam Biers was suspended last month after the Durham County Sheriff's Office accused him of providing a false date of birth on his job application to hide a criminal history.

Biers disputes the allegation, saying he doesn't have a criminal record and that a courthouse employee entered the wrong birth date.

A hearing to determine whether Biers can return to the bench is scheduled for Thursday. Motions on the case were heard Monday.

According to jail records from Manistee County, Michigan, Biers was charged in 1985 with three counts of breaking and entering and two counts of unlawfully driving away an automobile, or car theft.

While awaiting trial, he went to Nevada, where his mother was living, and Michigan authorities filed a fugitive warrant for his return. Jail records show he later pleaded guilty to one count of breaking and entering and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years on probation.

A few months after Biers was released in May 1986, a judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest, accusing him of violating the terms of his probation. Jail and law enforcement records show Biers was taken into custody in 2002 for a probation violation tied to the mid-1980s case.

Durham County Detention Facility Suspended Durham magistrate served jail time in Michigan

Despite the Manistee County, Mich., jail records of Biers' arrest, guilty plea and jail time, the Clerk of Court in the same county said that there are no public documents about Biers’ criminal record. Biers’ lawyer suggested in court on Monday that Biers had it sealed.

In addition to the complaint filed by the Durham County Sheriff's Office, the mother of a student stabbed at Northern High School in March filed a complaint against Biers.

Kenya Newell said her son was still undergoing emergency surgery while the student charged in the case was released on the $5,000 bond Biers set in the case.

Newell said investigators told her that Eric Tyrone Prince Jr. admitted that he had brought a knife to school for the sole purpose of stabbing her son and should have been held on a higher bond. She also complained that Biers didn't seem to take her concerns seriously when she questioned the bond.

Her complaint also alleged that Biers had a criminal history.

Biers said he never spoke to Newell and that another magistrate handled her call.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • VoiceMatters May 24, 2011

    i smell conviction-overturn retro

  • tritonlm6 May 24, 2011

    Good to know this is being looked into.

  • superman May 24, 2011

    We dont need criminals in the justice system. It is his problem whether he can find a job or not. I really dont care how long ago it happened! He must have had another fellow criminal to give him the job.

  • lane817 May 24, 2011

    I applied for the same job in Durham 3 times and never even got an interview. Guess my lack of a criminal past hurt my chances.

  • djofraleigh May 24, 2011

    tea2cup's comment is disturbed thinking on parade.

  • djofraleigh May 24, 2011

    Durham does seem to have trouble running a tight ship up there in the justice department. That the truth about this magistrate's history is so hard to come up with is disturbing about the justice system in general.

  • no contest May 23, 2011

    Welcome to the Durham justice system. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

  • tea2cup May 23, 2011

    This is just sad what we have become!!! I don't know this man, how old he is or anything about him. The Pharisee's have surely come out just like they always do. This happened 26 years ago folks!! This man has bettered himself, moved forward, but no the Pharisee's want to keep stomping him. I bet you people are in church every Sunday with your God Bless you, I forgive you and all the pharisee talk that comes from your unholy holes. If you are now no good after any offence committed, then take these people into the street and shoot them because you are denying them jobs and any means to have a life. SHAME ON YOU ALL!!

  • westernwake1 May 23, 2011

    The Durham justice system is a mess. Their magistrate is a wanted fugitive. Since when is it OK to hire a person who served felony prison time as a magistrate. It appears that this guys record was an "open secret" within the Durham court system.

    It was only when a mother of a victim stepped forward to demand why her son's attacker was given absurdly light parole terms by this magistrate that this all came out. It was obvious that the mother was going to hire a lawyer that was going to figure this out in a discovery phase of a suit in 24 hours or less - that is when the Durham court system came clean and suspended this guy. Absurd!

  • boneymaroney13 May 23, 2011

    And by "them", exactly who do you mean?