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Groom Arrested for Physically Throwing His Mom Out of Church

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 25, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When Nevada groom Justin Harris woke up on his wedding day, he had no idea that he would be facing charges for throwing his mom out of the church.

Harris had invited his mother to the ceremony at Carson Valley United Methodist Church in Gardnerville, Nev. But he says that she arrived yelling and screaming, and was in complete objection to the pending nuptials.

He then picked her up and removed her from the building. His mom now claims that he attacked her the minute she entered the sanctuary. She called 911.

Police have since charged Justin Harris with disorderly conduct and coercion, and a hearing has been set for November 2. But one question still remains:

What, exactly, is coercion?

This blogger was admittedly baffled by such a charge. Coercion implies extortion , which has no basis in the facts above.

But it turns out that, in Nevada, coercion has a completely different meaning. The statute makes it illegal to use violence for the purpose of "compelling another to do or abstain from doing an act which the other person has a right to do or abstain from doing."

In other words, it's illegal to use force to compel a person to exercise, or not exercise, a legal right.

As applied to Justin Harris, it's arguable that his mother had a legal right to be in the church. When he forcibly removed her from the church, he used violence to compel her to abstain from exercising that right.

If you think this is an odd application of the statute, you're probably not alone. But by throwing his mom out of the church, Justin Harris may have technically violated this law.

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