Associated Press

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) – A judge ordered an estranged couple handcuffed together and jailed during a divorce hearing.

When Sabrena and Kirk Smith’s stories contradicted each other during a hearing Jan. 25, Muskegon County Judge Gregory Pittman ordered them cuffed together and shackled to a holding cell bench “until somebody decides that they’re going to not lie to the court.”

After the couple’s lawyers conferred with the judge, Sabrena Smith dropped a complaint that her husband had violated a protection order. They were released about a half-hour later.

Sabrena Smith later said the complaint was true and she withdrew it to stay out of jail.

“I didn’t see any other way to get her out of there,” said Jenny McNeill, her attorney.

Pittman said he wanted the truth and was certain neither spouse posed a threat to the other, or he would not have made the order.

“In hindsight I probably wouldn’t do it again, but in no way would I ever put a person who has been assaulted in that situation,” Pittman said.

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Sabrena Smith said she and her husband exchanged words while cuffed together but she did not feel endangered, “just angry.” She said she planned to file a grievance against Pittman and get a new judge.

Kirk Smith’s lawyer, Harold Closz III, said the judge’s handcuffing order was “unusual” but not necessarily inappropriate.

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