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10:04
Gabby Sims (KLTV): 
Welcome to tonight's chat. This chat follows a two-part investigation by Julia Jenae. She will be joining us shortly.

To read part one of our investigation, click here: http://www.kltv.com/story/3...
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:04 Gabby Sims (KLTV)
10:08
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Hi Gabby, thank you for the introduction.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:08 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:12
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
When was they planning on getting married
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:12 Guest
10:14
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Hell, Gabby. Hello, Julia. I'm just catching up on this new part of the story. Thank you for this excellent piece of reporting.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:14 Sam@FFRF
10:14
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Of the couples that have come forward, none had set a date for when they would get married. Most said they were waiting to become more financially stable.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:14 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:15
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
In the case of the younger couple who were only a few years out of high school, the husband told me they were initially waiting for her (the wife) to finish college.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:15 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:17
Gabby Sims (KLTV): 
Viewer question from Facebook: Is it illegal for two criminals to live together? In other words, can a parolee live or hang out with another parolee legally?
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:17 Gabby Sims (KLTV)
10:18
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Thank you for this chat and your reporting. Judge Rogers has been on the bench for over twenty years. The court he is in is a very difficult bench because he deals with hundreds of family law and misdemeanor cases. This cases frequently involve child support or drug or abuse related matters. He handles the Attorney General docket which is mostly failure to pay child support or restraining order matters. He has tried over the years to be creative and fair. Some of his ideas may seem a little quirky but he has handled thousands of cases to the benefit of those involved and the county. I have had cases in front of him and he is very fair. I do agree the marriage options in the few cases you have mentioned out of the thousands of cases he has handled are probably a little out of bounds but none of them were mandatory. The criminal defendants could have easily taken their sentence and had no obligation to go through with a marriage. Were any of the cases you looked at involving the marriage issue actually cases where the criminal defendant had to get married or that was only an option? Thank you
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:18 Clay White
10:19
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
To Facebook: There is nothing wrong with associating with other parolees as a rule. But individual situations can vary. Ultimately the judge does have some say in the matter. However, the judge must have a legitimate reason for the decision.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:19 Sam@FFRF
10:22
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Clay, thank you for your question. In one of the cases that we reviewed, the defendant had a choice of either getting married or going to jail. That is true with any probation condition. So in answer to your question, yes, the criminal defendants had other options. They could also change their plea from guilty to not guilty and go forward with a jury trial instead.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:22 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:22
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Clay: a judge has a special obligation not to go outside the boundaries of the law when ruling from the bench. These "choices" to get married or to go to jail might be decisions in the technical sense, but a judge has significant authority over defendants. There is an undeniable level of coercion at play here.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:22 Sam@FFRF
10:25
[Comment From Ashley GAshley G: ] 
I have known Judge Roger personally for over 20 years, and he is EXTREMELY ethical in all aspects of his life! This story should have never made it to the media!
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:25 Ashley G
10:27
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Ashley G: Thank you for your feedback. Do you have a question that you would like us to try to answer?
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:27 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:29
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Sam, I agree with you on the obligation to stay within the law, but judges also have the obligation to fashion potential penalties to help aid the defendant in making better life choices. I do not see that Judge Rogers was malicious at all. He is trying to shape future positive outcomes. If you want Judges with no flexibility then you have the problem with mandatory sentences which have already created problems with sever sentences with minor crimes in federal court. Do any of you think it is best that Judges like Judge Rogers have no options at their disposal? Also, do you not think these judges have seen many suggested penalties that do not work and are therefore trying to be creative to get better outcomes?
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:29 Clay White
10:30
[Comment From Ashley GAshley G: ] 
Julia, No thank you, I know all about the situation.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:30 Ashley G
10:32
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
We looked into this story for many weeks before airing it. We had the case reviewed by Texas attorneys to see if this was, in fact, as unusual as it sounded. We also asked Judge Rogers for a comment to help us understand both sides of this issue and our request was denied. It was the unique nature of the story idea that was brought to us that prompted us to look deeper and publish it.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:32 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:32
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Clay, I think there's a wide range of options between mandatory sentences and unconstitutional sentences like we've seen with Judge Rogers. It's clear that Judge Rogers is letting his personal religious beliefs (and personal beliefs on marriage) affect his rulings from the bench. This is unacceptable for any judge. There is plenty of room for creativity in probationary sentences without violating the law.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:32 Sam@FFRF
10:33
[Comment From Matt SMatt S: ] 
Clay, I get what you are saying in terms of fashioning sentences to shape positive future outcomes. Doesn't it become a problem once the judge starts inserting what is, in essence, a religious exercise as the only option to a jail sentence? Although, on the other hand...
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:33 Matt S
10:34
[Comment From Matt SMatt S: ] 
What about requiring people to attend AA meetings as a probation requirement. AA is, by its very message, a religious program. As are many addiction treatment programs. Sam?
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:34 Matt S
10:34
[Comment From Ashley GAshley G: ] 
Judge Rogers did not violate the law.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:34 Ashley G
10:36
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Matt,
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:36 Clay White
10:36
Gabby Sims (KLTV): 
shift (plus) return keys.*
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:36 Gabby Sims (KLTV)
10:37
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Matt, I do agree that there should be no forced specific religious component.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:37 Clay White
10:37
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Matt, federal courts have wisely recognized that AA is a religious program and have ruled that it is unconstitutional to make that a mandatory aspect of probation. AA is an unproven program that focuses more on proselytizing than actual recovery. This is not to say that it never works, but it is certainly not a scientifically-based system. Requiring a person to attend substance abuse treatment in general is permissible, however. The court simply can't require that it be religious in nature.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:37 Sam@FFRF
10:37
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Thank you Gabby. I forgot how to type
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:37 Clay White
10:38
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Ashley, it sounds like you have some strong personal feelings about this situation. That's fine, but please don't let them cloud the fact that Judge Rogers has absolutely gone beyond his authority as a judge in the reported rulings.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:38 Sam@FFRF
10:39
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Matt S.: I've actually been in the court of an East Texas family court judge where a parent was trying to regain custody of their child and was ordered to go to AA meetings. The defendant let the judge know that he was agnostic and did not want to participate in the religious based meetings. The judge gave him other options of secular AA meetings that he could attend.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:39 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:42
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
If you're interested in learning more about the shortcoming of AA/NA, I would recommend reading The Sober Truth by Lance Dodes. Here's a good article about it: http://www.nytimes.com/2014...
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:42 Sam@FFRF
10:42
[Comment From Matt SMatt S: ] 
That is great Julia! I can tell you that is not the case in front of all judges.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:42 Matt S
10:42
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Julia, thank you for this opportunity to chat. What have you found the folks making these complaints actually want from the Judicial Conduct Board? Do they want a reprimand of Judge Rogers or want him removed? I can see an instruction to the judge to watch his sentences but anything further seems unwarranted
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:42 Clay White
10:42
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Ashley G: From a reporter's standpoint, the story does not say that Judge Rogers violated the law, though some attorneys have stated their opinion on that. The governing body to determine if there was a violation in this case is the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, and they have not made a decision yet.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:42 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:45
[Comment From Sheraton G.Sheraton G.: ] 
AA is not a religious program, they pray to their higher power which can be anyone.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:45 Sheraton G.
10:46
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Clay: Thank you for joining in and sharing your thoughts. Each of the people in these cases are different in what they want. And I do want to make clear that none of the ones in our story filed a complaint or asked FFRF to file a complaint. I'll let Sam speak more to what prompted them to file the complaint. One person wanted their entire probation to be reviewed because many of the terms, not just the marriage option, seemed unreasonable to them. One just wanted the chance to share their story to remind others to always have an attorney present when facing a judge.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:46 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:47
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Clay, I personally filed a judicial ethics complaint with the Commission over Judge Rogers' conduct. The Commissioner conducts its own investigations and determines what punishment is warranted, if any. I would personally like to see Judge Rogers warned and put on some sort of probation where his future rulings are reviewed for appropriateness. If he continues to make religiously-motivated rulings from the bench, he needs to be dismissed.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:47 Sam@FFRF
10:49
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Clay: (Continued from above) But I would be sugar coating it if I didn't say that each of them probably wants see some kind of reprimand or discipline to keep it from happening again.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:49 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
10:49
[Comment From Shera G.Shera G.: ] 
AA is not a religious program. They pray to their higher power which can be anyone. Sounds like you were sentenced to AA Sam
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:49 Shera G.
10:49
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Sheraton, I can tell you both from a historical perspective, legal perspective, and based on second-hand accounts that AA is very much a religious program. I would encourage you to read The Sober Truth if you're interested in understanding the motivations behind the program's origins.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:49 Sam@FFRF
10:51
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Or, Shera, you can read more about AA/NA on the Freedom From Religion Foundation's website: https://ffrf.org/outreach/i...
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:51 Sam@FFRF
10:57
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Sam, I agree everyone needs to be reviewed to be sure that conditions of probation are appropriate. I am sure Judge Rogers would agree with that as well. I would imagine you have some court room experience so you have probably watched some of the types of cases Judge Rogers deals with on a daily basis as do other judges. After hearing years of the same excuses and seeing the same folks coming back into the court, can you not imagine how creative judges have to be to even get the attention of some of these folks? Again, I appreciate the reporting and feel that there should always be checks and balances as long as they do not get overblown.
Thursday October 29, 2015 10:57 Clay White
11:04
Gabby Sims (KLTV): 
Unless there are any more questions, we will be concluding our chat at 11:15 p.m. CT Any last-minute questions or comments?
Thursday October 29, 2015 11:04 Gabby Sims (KLTV)
11:05
[Comment From Clay WhiteClay White: ] 
Gabby, thank you for the chat-have a great night
Thursday October 29, 2015 11:05 Clay White
11:07
[Comment From Sam@FFRFSam@FFRF: ] 
Thanks for your comments, everyone. And thank you, KLTV, for facilitating the discussion!
Thursday October 29, 2015 11:07 Sam@FFRF
11:09
Julia Jenae (KLTV): 
Thank you, Sam for joining us and giving your perspective.
Thursday October 29, 2015 11:09 Julia Jenae (KLTV)
11:17
Gabby Sims (KLTV): 
Thank you, everyone, for joining us tonight.

If you have stumbled upon your chat after its conclusion, you can read part one of our investigation here: http://www.kltv.com/story/3...

We have also made available the complaint filed by Sam and the response from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, available here: http://www.kltv.com/story/3...

A list of answers to questions commonly asked after our first story is available here: http://www.kltv.com/story/3...

Have a good night, everybody!
Thursday October 29, 2015 11:17 Gabby Sims (KLTV)
 
 
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