Group files complaint against judge who ordered man to marry his girlfriend
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A group that advocates the separation of church and state has filed a complaint about a Texas judge who ordered a man to marry his girlfriend as a condition of probation.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said Friday it filed the complaint against Smith County Court-at-Law Judge Randall Rogers a day earlier with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct in Austin.
On July 2, Rogers gave 21-year-old Josten Bundy 30 days to marry 19-year-old Elizabeth Jaynes or face 15 days in jail for pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault.
Bundy admitted punching Jaynes’ ex-boyfriend twice in the jaw for “saying disrespectful things” about her.
Rogers then gave him a choice between two years of probation or 15 days in jail, according to Jaynes.
The probation terms included requiring Bundy to write out a Bible verse 25 times a day (“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it.” — Proverbs 26:27), and getting married within 30 days.
“We figured he’d get probation but were surprised about the other conditions, especially the marriage,” Jaynes told CNN.
“Then the the judge asked Josten if I was worth it and if we were living together, and we both said ‘yes.’ When the judge said part of the probation was that we had to get married Josten smiled at me and I was turning red. The judge said, ‘You might want to check with her first.’ Josten said that because my face was red he thought I was OK with it, but then the judge made me stand up and asked me if I was OK with it. I said yes. People were laughing behind me and the bailiff had to say ‘order in the court.’ It was embarrassing.”
Jaynes said she told her parents about what happened in court and her father was very angry. He told them they didn’t have to go through with it but they did, getting married at City Hall on July 20.
“I was really upset. Judge Rogers stepped into my family and tried to tell them what to do without any regard for me or anything. This isn’t his decision,” Elizabeth’s father, Kenneth Jaynes, told CNN.
“I told them they didn’t have to do this, but they were afraid. They are young and they didn’t know that they had any other options,” he said.
Bundy told CNN affiliate KLTV, “(Rogers) offered me 15 days in jail and that would have been fine and I asked if I could call my job [to let them know],” said Bundy. “The judge told me ‘Nope, that’s not how this works.’
Rogers didn’t return a message seeking comment.