Utah judge conducts wedding for handcuffed defendant
Courts • Handcuffed defendant exchanges vows with his fiance.
Published: June 7, 2013 10:17PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:33PM

The 3:30 p.m. suppression hearing Thursday in the case of United States of America v. Andre Jacques Collette was routine until the every end.

There were arguments made, evidence offered, testimony given, a briefing schedule set. And then came the exchanging of the vows.

As family and friends looked on from the crowded gallery, U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups conducted a marriage ceremony for the 23-year-old defendant and his fiance.

The judge allowed the bride, clad in a dress and clutching a bouquet, to join the handcuffed groom at the front of the courtroom and hold his hands. U.S. Marshals flanked the couple as Waddoups pronounced them husband and wife.

“And he allowed him to kiss the bride,” said Wendy M. Lewis, an assistant federal defender representing Collette, who said it was a courtroom first for her.

While the setting may have been less than ideal, “His family was happy and he was happy and that is what matters,” she said.

Waddoups has conducted three or four weddings over the past five years, typically at sentencing hearings before a defendant is sent to prison.

But Collette, who faces one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, did not want to wait to see how his case turns out. Collette, who has entered a plea of not guilty, faces a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

At the hearing, Collette argued that Cottonwood Heights police did not have a warrant to search his parents’ home, where he was living earlier this year, when they found and seized a handgun. An additional hearing is set for August.

brooke@sltrib.com