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Instead Of Bail, Fla. Judge Orders Man To Take His Wife To Dinner, Bowling

Domestic abuse cases are never easy. But one in Florida has gotten a different kind of attention, today, because of a judge's ruling that instead of bail, called for a man to treat his wife to flowers and dinner and then take her bowling.

During a bail hearing, yesterday, Joseph Bray faced Judge John "Jay" Hurley. Bray had ended up in a Broward County jail after a domestic altercation that started after Hurley's wife called him out for not wishing her a happy birthday. According to the The Sun Sentinel, the judge said "Bray pushed his wife onto their couch and put his hand on her neck. He held up his fist to hit her, but never struck her."

The judge was tasked with deciding whether to free Bray or keep him locked up. You can watch the conversation the judge had with Bray and a woman who identified herself as Hurley's wife in this video:

Judge Hurley asked the wife if she felt threatened if Bray was released. She said no, repeteadly.

The problem, she said, was "a lack of communication between the two of us. It was my birthday and he should have said something to me in the morning. I love my husband and I want to work things out."

At that point, the judge said he would release Bray on his own recognizance but he ordered him to do a few things. The AP writes:

"Hurley ordered Bray to buy a birthday card and flowers for his wife before taking her to dinner at Red Lobster and bowling afterward. Hurley ruled the couple should begin seeing a marriage counselor immediately."

The couple laughed and Hurley defended his decision to the Sun Sentinel:

"'It was a minor incident, in the court's opinion,' he said. 'The court would not normally do that if the court felt there was some violence but this is very, very minor and the court felt that that was a better resolution than other alternatives.'"

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.