A judge must have been thinking about his future as an internet celebrity when he gave a man a very difficult choice: either marry his girlfriend or go to jail for hitting her ex. “Is she worth it?” Judge Randall Rogers asked the reluctant groom before letting him know that it was either forced matrimonial bliss or 15 days in the big house.
CBS reports that neither Josten Bundy or his 19-year-old girlfriend, Elizabeth Jaynes were ready to get married at the time, nor did they ever think their choice of when to get married would be up for debate, but the Texas couple decided that tying the knot would be the best way to help Bundy both stay employed and keep his record clear. Bundy had even asked the judge for an opportunity to call his work to let them know about possible interruptions to his schedule due to jail time, but the judge refused, saying, “That’s not how this works.”
Aside from the fact that the judge sounds like a complete idiot who is very pleased with himself, and the fact that marriage isn’t a suitable punishment for a crime, Rogers also treated Jaynes like an object. She didn’t have a say in whether she was getting married because obviously she’d do anything to keep her boyfriend out of jail...? This punishment wouldn’t be appropriate in any situation (trust me, I’ve thought about it), but it’s even less appropriate because Jaynes loses any agency in the process. Why should the freedom of her significant other depend on her? Isn’t forcing Jaynes to be a party to this suggesting that somehow she’s responsible? And the “Is she worth it?” question drives home the point that Jaynes wasn’t so much a human concern for the judge as an object lesson. It’s kind of like those stories where a parent finds a kid smoking a cigarette so they make the child smoke a dozen more just to make sure little Bobby understands how awful and gross smoking is. Except in this case, the cigarettes are a real live person who is being manipulated by one of those “activist judges” we hear so much about.
Rogers, who also ordered Bundy to write bible verses (sigh..) and go to counseling (maybe the one good thing he ordered) probably feels like he’s done his civic duty and taught some young people about responsibility . You know how it is: if you love something so much you’d beat someone up over it, you’d better get married to it to prove you’re serious. Everyone knows that, right?
“[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.”
“I took matters into my own hands and I know that’s wrong,” Bundy said. “I know I was raised better, but it happened.”
Bundy, who claims that he would have done the same thing if someone had been speaking ill of his four sisters, chose to get married because he couldn’t lose his job, but the humiliation didn’t stop there. Jaynes had to be publicly humiliated for something she wasn’t in any way responsible for.
Jaynes, who was in the courtroom said the proposal from the judge embarrassed her.
“My face was so red, people behind me were laughing,” said Jaynes. “[The judge] made me stand up in court.”
The couple had less than 30 days to get married and scrambled to prepare. Jaynes, who loves wedding shows on TV, never imagined that her wedding would be held in a courthouse under duress.
“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.”
And while the couple had always planned to get married, they had so little time to plan for this forced wedding that they weren’t able to get the appropriate attire nor give their relatives enough time to make room for a wedding in their schedules. Bundy’s father and sisters couldn’t make it.
Now that the case is getting national attention, let’s hope that Judge Rogers is scrutinized very, very closely. He wouldn’t return questions from CBS about the case or his sentencing decisions in general, but an attorney says that there’s no way he could have enforced such a wedding and was abusing his power as a judge.
“To say you’re not going to be criminally punished if you get married is way out of left field,” said [attorney Blake] 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.”
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