A man was forced to marry his 19-year-old girlfriend and write down Bible verses by an East Texas judge as punishment for punching another man in the jaw.
Last month, Josten Bundy was taken to court for fighting Jaynes’ former partner, who did not need medical assistance but pressed assault charges after the altercation. Court transcripts show that Judge Randall Rogers asked Bundy if Jaynes was worth fighting for.
Rogers then told Bundy he would have to marry his girlfriend within 30 days as a condition of his probation. According to the defendant, Rogers gave him the option to sit behind bars for 15 days. Bundy asked if he could call his employer and let them know he was going to jail, but the judge refused. Bundy and girlfriend Elizabeth Jaynes were then forced to marry or risk Bundy losing his job. They applied for their marriage license and scheduled a date with the justice of the peace.
“It just felt like we weren’t going to be able to have the wedding we wanted,” Jaynes said in an interview with KLTV. “It was just going to be kind of pieced together, I didn’t even have a white dress.”
“We were strung over each other and really were in love,” Bundy said. “[At our wedding] I would have worn a black tux with some yellow under it because I’m a Steelers fan.”
Attorney Blake Bailey later confirmed that forcing a couple to marry is illegal. “To say you’re not going to be criminally punished if you get married is way out of left field,” he told KLTV. “It sounds like the old days of shotgun weddings, but not even the judge is capable of enforcing, what he thinks is best for some people in his court.”
A similar abuse of power happened in June, when Michigan Judge Lisa Gorcyca tried to sentence three kids to a juvenile detention center — for years — because they refused to eat lunch with their father.