Texas judge sentences man to marriage and Bible verses in lieu of jail time

Last month, Texas man Josten Bundy found himself standing before Smith County, Texas Judge Randall Roberts, facing charges of misdemeanor assault. His girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend had been saying disparaging and disrespectful things toward her, and Bundy had gotten into a fight with him to defend her honor.

It’s unclear as to exactly what her ex-boyfriend said to her, but as Bundy told KLTV news, he was raised with four sisters, and would have taken anyone who said anything like that to any woman outside.

Shotgun wedding, via Wikimedia Commons

Shotgun wedding, via Wikimedia Commons

According to court transcripts, Roberts asked Bundy, “Is she worth it?” before presenting him with a choice: He could marry his girlfriend, who is 19 years old, within 30 days, or serve 15 days in jail. Bundy has reportedly also been ordered to write Bible verses as part of his probation.

Bundy asked Roberts if he could call his boss to let him know he’d be out for two weeks, but his request was refused. Worried that Bundy would lose his job, the couple got married shortly thereafter, telling KLTV that they had talked about getting married before, but had been planning to wait until they had enough money saved up for an actual ceremony. With time to invite their relatives and, you know, plan it out.

It’s unclear as to where in the law Roberts found the legal justification to order a shotgun (prison bar?) wedding — an attorney contacted by KLTV described the sentence as “way out of left field,” adding that such a sentence would likely be overturned on appeal.

If nothing else, it’s positively fascinating for social conservatives who talk of heterosexual marriage as an unarguable, universal social good to use it as punishment — literally a life sentence — for what at the end of the day is a minor offense. Or not an offense at all, following the traditional rules of Texas justice.

 


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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