Marry or the slammer? A Texas judge gave a peculiar ruling to a man: Marry, or head to jail. While some would cynically they are one and the same, the bizarre “justice” doled out to this Smith County couple has people talking, especially considering the man is only 20 years old and his girlfriend is a teenager. Play house, or head to the big house.
Reports the Washington Post: “The court case stemmed from a February altercation between Josten Bundy, 20, and the ex-partner of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Jaynes, 19. He told the TV station he hit the man twice. During his sentencing, Judge Randall Rogers told Bundy he would have to marry his girlfriend within 30 days as a condition of his probation.”
Bundy said his girlfriend’s ex was talking insolently about her, and it appears he was simply defending her honor, like any good suitor would do. He dared the ex to a fight, walloped him, and then found out the man was pressing assault charges against him in a misdemeanor criminal case.
“[The ex-boyfriend] had been saying disrespectful things about Elizabeth, so I challenged him to a fight,” said Bundy. “He stepped in and I felt like it was on and I hit him in the jaw twice.”
Bundy told Judge Rogers that he “took matters into my own hands and I know that’s wrong. I know I was raised better, but it happened.” The 20-year-old, who has four sisters, told the judge that if “any man was talking to a woman like that. I’d probably do the same thing.”
But Rogers asked Bundy if his girlfriend was “worth it,” and when Bundy replied that she was, the judge essentially told him to prove it – either Bundy must marry Jaynes within 30 days or spend 15 days behind bars. Rogers also forced Bundy to attend counseling sessions and assigned a selection of Bible verses for him to write out.
Bundy, not quite ready to face a summer courthouse wedding, said he would do the time, but needed to call his work to make arrangements first. Rogers refused.
“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],” said Bundy. “The judge told me ‘nope, that’s not how this works.’”
Jaynes said the forced proposal embarrassed her. She was in attendance in the court. “My face was so red, people behind me were laughing,” Jaynes said. “[The judge] made me stand up in court,” later adding: “It just felt like we weren’t going to be able to have the wedding we wanted. It was just going to be kind of pieced together, I didn’t even have a white dress.”
The pair applied for a marriage certificate, set a date with the local justice of the peace – and are now a married couple.
Local ABC affiliate KLTV asked the newlyweds if they have any regrets about getting married. They said they didn’t – as they both had discussed getting married eventually – but that the compulsory wedding left much to be desired.
“I used to watch Say Yes to the Dress and all those shows and all the dresses and think about what kind of dress I would have,” said Jaynes. “I would have liked a spring wedding when it’s not too hot and not too cold.”
Bundy added: “We were strung over each other and really were in love. At our wedding, I would have worn a black tux with some yellow under it because I’m a Steelers fan.”
But beyond the outfits, Bundy said he regrets that his family was not there.
“My father didn’t get to go, and that really bothers me, I know he would have liked to be there,” he said. “None of my sisters got to show up, it was such short notice, I couldn’t get it together.”
Elizabeth’s father, Kenneth Jaynes, was ticked. When asked how he felt, he said: “Anger; I was mad. The judge can’t do this by court ordering somebody to be married. I contacted a couple of lawyers but they told me someone was trying to pull my leg…that judges don’t court order somebody to get married.”
This one did however, even though the ruling was clearly unconstitutional.
Texas attorney Blake Bailey said a higher court most definitely would have struck down the ruling if Bundy had appealed.
“To say you’re not going to be criminally punished if you get married is way out of left field,” said Bailey. “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.”
What are your thoughts on this judge ordering a man to marry?