FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ Judge Donald McDonough handles about 150 landlord-tenant disputes a day, but the verdict he gave a deaf couple facing eviction was something unique.

The case involved Deborah Morris and Louis Swann, who were taken to court by their landlord because they were $250 short on their rent. After hearing arguments, the judge abruptly left the courtroom, then returned a minute later holding two $100 bills and a $50 bill.

``Consider it paid,'' he said, leaning over the bench and handing his own money to the landlord's stunned attorney Friday.

As a sign-language interpreter translated, Morris pressed her hands to her chest.

``I couldn't say a word,'' said Morris, 48. ``It just blew me away.''

The couple, married in October, learned only recently that their married status meant a drop in Morris' disability benefits. Without the aid, they couldn't pay their $630 monthly rent, Morris said.

McDonough, 55, declined to be interviewed.

``Only in America,'' said Fairfax prosecutor Robert F. Horan Jr. ``I've heard of judges suspending judgments. I've never heard of a judge chipping in.''