Carl Eller's bias appeal fails

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed the controversial conviction of former Viking Carl Eller for fourth-degree assault and refusing to submit to a chemical test.

Eller, ex Purple People-Eater, was pulled over in 2008 on suspicions of DWI whereupon he allegedly assaulted the officers and refused a sobriety test. During his court hearing, Eller accused the police and courts of bias and corruption

Judge Daniel Mabley didn't take too kindly to Eller's accusations, played a part in his ruling. Mabley sentenced Eller to 60 days in jail and put him into custody immediately after sentencing.

"I have to send a message that I do not find credible what he has asserted," Mabley said during his ruling. "The best way I can to that is to take him into custody."

Mabley's rationale elicited much controversy, as many observers wondered if such reasoning flew in the face of the First Amendment.

Hennepin County prosecutors concede it was a harsh sentence, but not unexpected.

"Not entirely surprising," says Deputy Hennepin County Attorney Pat Diamond. "I think we said before it's a stern sentence. I think that's true."

Which brings us to the appeal. Eller's attorneys argued that the court erred in sentencing and ruled on insufficient evidence. The appellate court disagreed, today ruling that Judge Mabley's decision to take him into custody right away--as opposed to weeks down the road--was separate from the sentencing. Mabley may have used a poor choice of words, the court ruled, but he didn't improperly take into consideration political speech in reaching his decision:

"The district court's comments did reflect a poor choice of words because they created the false impression that the district court was not basing its decision on the underlying facts and circumstances present in the record before it... However, we have carefully reviewed the entire record and conclude that while the district court's choice of words may have given that impression, this is not what the district court in fact did."

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