Local News

Suspended Durham magistrate served jail time in Michigan

Posted May 23, 2011 2:34 p.m. EDT
Updated May 23, 2011 9:24 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.