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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19 Responses to “Texas judge sentences man to marriage and Bible verses in lieu of jail time”

  1. UncleBucky says:

    Always TexASS…

  2. Russ Alcott says:

    Again, Texas……really, are you surprised? I say, “let ’em go”! They won’t make it with all the people that will be leaving….and the ones coming in, be like the old wild, wild west, “howdy partner”!

  3. Thom Allen says:

    Liberty University (and others) have “evangelical law schools.” How can you teach separation of church and state when they are (ostensibly) learning secular law in that kind of environment?


  4. Baal says:

    Also, you shall not suffer a witch to live.

  5. heimaey says:


  6. Naja pallida says:

    Louie Gohmert is the bastard child of extreme gerrymandering. His district was solidly Democratic, until they completely redrew the boundaries to disenfranchise almost all of those voters in 2003.

  7. nicho says:

    It’s really grounds for annulment — coercion. And the poor woman. A judge had to order someone to marry her. Wow. What does that do to your self esteem?

  8. Naja pallida says:

    When you have an elected judiciary, they don’t have to have any qualifications at all. Aside from being able to win a political campaign in a local election where only a tiny fraction of the electorate even bothers to turn up to vote.

  9. Indigo says:

    It’s a collision of metaphors. English professors haven’t caught up with that one yet.

  10. 2karmanot says:

    I would like the Bible verse describing David running and dancing down the road. I’ve got a very hunky imagination.

  11. 2karmanot says:

    Well, look at Louie Gohmert, truly, a perfect example of a moron achieving the heights of what Texas considers intelligence.

  12. 2karmanot says:

    Got dahmmmn gobber ya done good!

  13. Skye Winspur says:

    Why is it every time I hear the idiom “way out of left field,” it refers to something coming from the extreme right politically?

  14. emjayay says:

    That free stock photo adds nothing, and in fact detracts from your post. Sometimes a free stock photo is worth minus a thousand words.

  15. Indigo says:


  16. BlueIdaho says:

    Only in Texas. Or maybe Idaho, Oklahoma, Wyoming, etc, etc.

  17. LasloPratt says:

    But why is the judge punishing the girlfriend???

  18. heimaey says:

    How do these people even get to be judges? Doesn’t require going to law school and learning about the separation between church and state?

  19. BeccaM says:

    The 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

    ‘Unusual’ here would apply. Furthermore, considering the near-permanent legal entanglements caused by forcing someone to marry, it could also be considered ‘excessive.’ And finally, judges are fairly limited in the kinds and types of punishments they are legally authorized to impose, with jail, probation, and fines basically comprising those limits.

    Ordering a marriage and to ‘write Bible verses’ is sure to be waaaaaay outside this.

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