Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nitwits Sitting In Judgment In Colorado Courts

Take a look at this “man”.

His name is Willis Lee Rouse, age thirty eight. He’s presently in jail, (see his cute jump suit?) Rouse is currently serving four years in the Fremont Correctional Facility, in Colorado for stalking and escape.

Rouse and an unidentified fourteen year old girl began living together in April 2002 in Colorado, and a year later applied for a marriage license.

The girl became pregnant, but told authorities she didn’t have sexual relations with Rouse and that he wasn’t the baby’s father. Police still removed her from Rouse's residence and returned the girl to her mother. The case was then reported to County Social Services. Rouse pleaded guilty to stalking, and in return, the sexual assault charges were dropped. He was sentenced to four years.

Now, the mother of the girl consented to the marriage, and went with her daughter and Rouse to get a license from the county clerk's office. The license was issued, but a County District Judge granted a motion by the County Department of Human Services to invalidate the marriage. The judge ruled that those under age 16 must have judicial approval for either common-law or statutory marriage. Statutory, (legal) marriage has a minimum age of 16 years and requires parental or judicial approval until the age of 18. Presently, Colorado law does not address a minimum age regarding common law marriage. So, the judge’s ruling was a matter of common sense.

However, a Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision. The appeals court noted in their decision that the state of Colorado recognizes English common law, which legalizes such marriages at age 12 for girls and 14 for boys. These minimum ages are said to have made sense when common law came about, (though I would disagree with it) but they certainly don’t make sense now.

Denver attorney Stephen Harhai, was quoted by the Denver Rocky Mountain News as saying:

"Under this action, this means your 12-year-old can, with whomever, say, 'I intend to be married to you,' and that's it, (they're) married. That's a little shocking."

Mr. Harhai is the former chairman of the family law section of the Colorado Bar Association. This background qualifies him to offer an opinion on the matter. He also said that since Colorado law doesn’t address minimum age regarding common law, the appeals court ruling is new precedent. He said that this would require legislative action by the state to fix.

Would you feel comfortable with your twelve year old daughter marrying a 30-something man? How about your 14 year old son marrying a thirty something woman?

Debbie Schlussel offers another scary possibility because of this ruling.


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