In nearly 30 years as a federal judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Judge Terrence Boyle has been labeled a right-wing ideologue by some who have opposed his elevation to a higher federal court. But those labels dont stick, as Boyles performance has been straight down the legal line. He has been a level-headed voice from the bench in one big case after another.
Make no mistake. His strict courtroom demeanor is intimidating to attorneys, particularly to those who have gone to his court unprepared. But when the time comes for a ruling, Boyle can be counted upon to justify his legal positions in a clear and straightforward way.
Thats exactly what he did last week when he told attorneys for North Carolinas prison system to report back to him on how the system would install cameras in Raleighs Central Prison to cover blind spots and corners obscured from video scrutiny. The judge also said the system needed to create guidelines that allowed security tapes to be held for longer than a few weeks.
Controversy has arisen over prison security and specifically over guards beating prisoners. Now eight inmates are in the process of suing the system. They say prisoners were taken handcuffed and shackled into an area called the desert because it was out of the sightline of security cameras. There, the inmates say, prisoners were brutally beaten.
Boyle was not ruling on those charges. Rather, he was dealing only with the surveillance issue. His was a common-sense call, and prison officials should not delay in doing exactly as he says. First, it will protect the integrity of the system, and second, they do not want to re-enter a good, tough judges courtroom without having followed his orders.