The Law: Out of the Briar Patch

Indicted by a North Carolina grand jury for committing a homosexual act, Defendant Robert McCorkle pleaded no contest, got a five-year sentence and served only 17 months before being paroled. Max Doyle pleaded not guilty, was tried and sentenced to not less than 20 or more than 30 years in prison.

The oddly disparate sentences were handed down by the same judge, acting under an equally odd state law based on an English statute of 1533 that made homosexuality a capital offense. As adopted in 1837, the euphemistic North Carolina law reads: "Any person who shall commit the abominable and detestable crime...