Local News

Suspended Durham magistrate resigns

Posted May 24, 2011 7:14 p.m. EDT

— A Durham County magistrate suspended after being accused of trying to hide a criminal history resigned Tuesday.

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 employment records to hide a criminal history.

Biers maintained in his resignation letter that a courthouse employee entered the wrong birth date in his employment files.

"As a result of the scurrilous and false complaints against me, I am forced to resign as a State of North Carolina and Durham County magistrate and freely state that I will never apply for a North Carolina magistrate position again," Biers wrote in the letter.

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.

"The allegation that I intentionally deceived the hiring authority is ludicrous and patently false since legally I have no criminal history," Biers wrote in his resignation letter. "It was all expunged and sealed."

He said his past came to light only after he filed a complaint against others in the Durham County Courthouse.

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

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 in his resignation letter that he never spoke to Newell and that another magistrate handled her call.

His resignation comes two days before a court hearing was scheduled on petitions seeking his removal as magistrate.