Judge Marries Defendant Then Finds Him Not Guilty

This is your incredible story of the day and maybe the week:

Baltimore County District Judge G. Darrell Russell Jr. took the unusual step last week of allowing the defendant to leave the court to obtain a marriage license and marrying the couple later in his chambers. About 20 minutes later, his new wife invoked marital privilege so she would not be required to testify against her husband.

The case ended with the judge finding the defendant not guilty, saying, “I found you not guilty, so I can’t sentence you as a defendant in any crimes, but earlier today, I sentenced you to life married to her.” Later, the three of them went to Bill Bateman’s for shots. (Okay, I made up the Bill Bateman’s part.)

More incredibly, the idea of the judge marrying the victim and the accused came from the judge himself. If this is true, it is absolutely unbelievable. I would not be surprised if this gets national attention. Groups fighting domestic violence are understandably apoplectic.

I have never been before this judge, but he is well respected by the one lawyer in my office I talked to about this story. I hate seeing a good judge – or anyone – brought down, but just one stupid thing that they thought was the right thing at the time they were doing it. But, for better and for worse, that is the way it goes.