Judge's Get-Out- of-Jail-Free Card: Get Married

Not everyone loves Randall Rogers' peculiar form of Texas justice
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2015 11:33 AM CDT
Judge's Get-Out- of-Jail-Free Card: Get Married
It's a weird way to have to tie the knot.   (Shutterstock)

Those who saw the story over the summer of the Texas judge who ordered a man to marry his girlfriend to avoid jail may have thought it was a weird one-off judgment—but it turns out that may be Randall Rogers' default consequence for unwed couples in his courtroom, KLTV reports. The outcry over Rogers' decree that 21-year-old Josten Bundy had to marry 19-year-old Elizabeth Jaynes or face 15 days in jail has led to the revelation of at least one similar ruling by the judge and resulted in a complaint against him with the State Commission for Judicial Conduct, per the station. "Judges are government actors and they need to keep their personal religious bias out of the courtroom," the attorney who filed the complaint in August tells KLTV. He adds that Rogers also violated the separation of church and state by ordering Bundy to write out Proverbs 26:27 ("If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it") 25 times a day.

Bill Bull tells KLTV a similar story about his 27-year-old son, Benjerman, who faced Rogers on a misdemeanor theft charge in 2012 and felt compelled to marry his also-arrested girlfriend: The two were living together, and Rogers said they couldn't be around each other; that meant they had to move or risk jail for violating the order—but "if you get married, that's a different story," Rogers said, per the court transcript. Bull says the quickie marriage "made things worse" for his son and "created more financial and emotional problems." One person vouching for Rogers: retired judge Cynthia Stevens Kent, who knew Rogers well. "The judge has enormous discretion [to set probation] as long as the conditions are meant to protect the victim, protect society, work toward rehabilitation," she tells KLTV. (More Texas stories.)

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