Over the years our host featured numerous articles presenting questionable, if not abusive, novel sentences for defendants convicted of crimes. Now, Smith County Texas Court Judge Randall Rogers hoisted himself to national attention for giving a man convicted of simple assault the choice between marrying his girlfriend within thirty days or going to jail.
At his sentencing hearing, Defendant Josten Bundy, before which he was convicted for an incident where he punched his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in the jaw, Judge Rogers provided a choice to avoid jail.
Mr. Bundy could either choose probation with a stipulation that he marry Elizabeth “Hanna” Jaynes, attend counseling, and write bible verses or submit to fifteen days in jail. He chose marriage despite misgivings of the conditions. He lamented:
“I just wonder what would have happened if Hannah said no, had we said, ‘you know judge, we would like to get married on our own terms.’ He offered me fifteen days in jail and that would have been fine and I asked if I could call my job [to let them know]. The judge told me ‘nope, that’s not how this works.’”
The humiliation was not limited to Defendant Bundy, Ms. Jaynes also was the recipient of Judge Rogers’ theatrics. While she was present in the courtroom, Judge Rogers asked Bundy, “Was she worth fighting over?”
“My face was so red, people behind me were laughing,” she said. “[The judge] made me stand up in court.”
Eighteen days afterward, the couple married before a justice of the peace.
In the view of your author Judge Rogers should be sanctioned for this stunt. There is a good possibility that this is not the only unusual and non-judicial punishment he delivered in the past.
We live in a world where there is a strong and tragic social and legal tradition in some places where forced marriages are common; though certainly many girls and women face harsher ramifications that fifteen days in jail for which Mr. Bundy was in peril. This is not an acceptable form of justice in any enlightened society.
While it seems that our couple would have a strong case for annulling the marriage by reason of duress of one of the parties of they so choose, from a personal point of view this couple now must succumb to a wedding ceremony that they did not plan, and outside what was of their own choosing. A wedding is not a formality to please the whim of a lower court judge, or to satisfy a judgement of a criminal court.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.