Kathryn Brooke Sauer isn’t due to get out of prison until June 2026, but Bradley Jones wants to marry her now.
Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry won’t issue the license, however. As a result, an attorney for Jones sued Perry in federal court Thursday. The complaint seeks to overturn a requirement for both parties to a marriage to apply for a license in person.
Since Sauer can’t do that, the law is an unconstitutional infringement on Jones’ right to marry, the lawsuit prepared by Louisville attorney Aaron J. Bentley argues.
Perry said she’s not necessarily against inmates marrying, but believes the law bars her from issuing a license unless both people come to her office.
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“I don’t see that the law says that I can do that,” she said of issuing a marriage license to one person.
Jones, of Louisville, is seeking a temporary injunction barring Perry from enforcing the in-person marriage application law.
Sauer, 34, and Jones met in middle school in 1994, and they dated for a month before she had to move away because her mother had joined the military, according to the lawsuit. Jones started getting in trouble after that. Over the next 10 years, he was in and out of juvenile and adult corrections facilities, the lawsuit said.
After getting out of prison, Jones began trying to track down Sauer. It took him years, but Jones ultimately found out in 2014 through a mutual middle-school acquaintance that Sauer was in prison. She is serving sentences on charges of robbery, facilitation to commit robbery, fraudulent use of credit cards, identify theft and receiving stolen property.
Jones wrote to Sauer and they renewed their friendship. They communicated by letter and phone for months, and he worked to get her transferred to the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women, where he finally went to visit her, the lawsuit said.
Jones proposed marriage at their first visit, even though he knew she is scheduled for another decade behind bars.
The lawsuit said Jones did not want to wait because he is deeply religious. Jones’ statement said Sauer is as well.
The warden at KCIW, Janet Conover, told Jones she had no objection to the marriage. However, she also told him both parties had to be at the clerk’s office to apply for a license, and that the prison did not transport inmates for that purpose.
Jones said several county clerks declined to issue a marriage license for him and Sauer. Perry turned him down July 14, leading to the lawsuit.