Federal lawsuit filed over prayer in Montgomery Co. court

WILLIS, Texas (KTRK) -- A local judge is facing a federal suit over his use of prayer in the courtroom.

The unidentified group of plaintiffs, which includes two attorneys, claims Judge Wayne Mack is violating the separation of church and state by allowing a prayer before court starts each day. The lawsuit notes Jane Doe is a Christian who doesn't want to be told when to pray.

"She believes that registering her objection publicly would bias Judge Mack against her and her clients," the lawsuit states.

But volunteer chaplain Darrell Hausmann contended nobody is being forced to pray.

Hausmann said the prayer is simply meant as encouragement to court participants who may face tough situations like eviction.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Judge under fire for allowing prayer in courtroom

"When we can bring peace to people, then that's a positive for us," said Hausmann.

Judge Mack spoke to Eyewitness News about the issue last August, emphasizing that he has signs prominently posted making sure people know they aren't required to remain in court for the prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation said that is simply not enough, based on how their clients feel about being in Judge Mack's court.

"They have felt that the judge was scanning the courtroom to see how people would react during the prayers," said staff attorney Sam Grover. "What we would like to see happen is for Judge Mack to end his courtroom prayer practice."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement reiterating his support for Judge Mack's position.

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