Nov 11, 2012 3:53 PM
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky inmate and his fiancee have filed a lawsuit in federal court after they were denied a marriage license.
Jeremy Devers, who is serving a 99-year sentence for murder, and Patricia Locke had planned to marry at Kentucky State Reformatory earlier this year, but had to cancel at the ceremony because the Bullitt County Clerk revoked their marriage license.
Clerk Kevin Mooney told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/RVpnwv) that state law has been interpreted to require both parties to appear at the clerk's office to obtain a marriage license. He referred questions to Bullitt County Attorney Monica Meredith Robinson, who declined to comment.
The lawsuit filed on the couple's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union alleges the in-person requirement violates their 14th Amendment right to marry.
"At its most basic, this case is about challenging the government's authority to impose an unnecessary and unduly restrictive limitation upon the rights of Kentucky inmates and their fiancees to marry," said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ALCU of Kentucky.
A ruling on the issue could settle whether special accommodations should be made for prisoners who wish to marry. The couple also was also denied a license by Jefferson and Oldham County clerks.
"I don't feel particularly compelled to help a prisoner," Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. said.
A 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling opined that inmates do have the right to wed, but said they can be restricted for security reasons.
Devers and Locke, first met in 1988, but ended their relationship a year later - before he was convicted in the 1990 murder of Teresa Burdette in Lousiville. They resumed contact in 2001, exchanging letters and calls. Over the course of time, they decided they were in love and Devers proposed.
Although Mooney initially accepted their application for a marriage proposal, the couple found out two days before the ceremony that it had been revoked. Mooney said the office stopped honoring prisoner addendums on the advice of the county attorney.
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com
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