Christopher Batchelor, a black Woodbridge man, and his white wife, Kim, won $2,000 in damages yesterday from a Prince William County magistrate they said refused to marry them because of their different races. Batchelor testified the magistrate told him, "I don't marry your kind."
Batchelor was the only witness to testify in the case, heard in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, before the two sides decided to settle.
"It wasn't really the matter of the money," Mrs. Batchelor said after the shortened trial. The couple had originally asked for $35,000 in damages. "It was more or less to prove the matter that he (magistrate) was wrong and that's what he proved by settling."
Marvin Best of Woodbridge, the magistrate, told a reporter who asked him about the case and if the settlement meant he had acted improperly, "You're asking me too many questions. Don't put anything in the paper about this. It's all settled and all cleared up. That was done away with." Best's attorney, Paul B. Ebert of Manassas, could not be reached for comment.
Batchelor, 22, who has a Japanese mother and a blackAmerican father, testified yesterday that he called Best about 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 last year to arrange the wedding and that Best had agreed to perform the ceremony at 7:30 p.m.
Batchelor testified that when he and three other carloads of friends and relatives arrived at Best's home, the magistrate asked him who the bride was to be.
Best pointed to Batchelor's mother, then Batchelor's sister, and asked if either of them was the bride, Batchelor testified. Then Kim Batchelor stepped forward and said, "It's me," Batchelor testified.
Best "handed the certificate back and he said, 'Take it on out of here. Take it on out of here," Batchelor testified.
Puzzled, Batchelor said he asked why and Best replied, "You know why," Batchelor testified.Batchelor asked the question again. "He said 'Do I have to tell you why?' and someone said yes," Batchelor testified."He [Best] said, 'Because I don't marry your kind.'"
During opening statements, Ebert said that Best had never made the appointment to marry Batchelor, that Best had relatives at his home at the time, and that Best had just run a nail in his foot and told Batchelor he didn't have time to perform the ceremony. Ebert said the racial aspects of the refusal were "interjected by this couple (the Batchelors)."
"In the past he married mixed couples, at least since the (antimiscegenation) law has allowed him to do so" since 1968, Ebert said.