Crime, State Judges

No Money, No Lawyers, No Problem

Detroit man, what the hell? Didn’t we save the auto industry? Shouldn’t you guys be doing better now?

A Detroit prosecutor says that after budget cuts she can no longer afford to have prosecutors cover misdemeanor traffic and assault cases, so people are walking away from court scot-free when their prosecutors don’t show up.

We’re talking about drunk driving cases and one misdemeanor domestic violence case.

At least the Detroit prosecutor still has staff to sue the county executive over her budget or lack thereof….

The Detroit Free Press has the story of crusading Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy (gavel bang: ABA Journal). She’s suing Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano over his budget that forced her to lay off 22 lawyers. She claims the budget prevents her from fulfilling her constitutional duties.

I don’t know if this “not enough lawyers” thing is just a stunt or if she really doesn’t have enough people to cover all the cases. Either way, it’s making a point that judges notice:

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear there is going to be any change any time soon,” Chief Judge Kenneth King said today.

He met with Worthy this morning to discuss the situation and said judges are forced to dismiss or adjourn cases when prosecutors don’t show.

Detroit’s 36th District Court Judge Ronald Giles said he dismissed about a half-dozen misdemeanor cases this morning including two drunk driving cases that were set for trial and an assault case because no attorney from the prosecutor’s office came to court.

The dispute affects judges’ ability to process cases.

“That’s going to present a danger for everybody that walks out of this courtroom, gets on the street and drives,” Giles said.

I wonder how long before the officials in Detroit get to the “you’ve proved your point, now get back to work” phase.

It might take some time to get to that point. It’s not like there’s going to be a public outcry for more prosecutors for traffic violators:

Meanwhile, people like Chase Majors left court happy today. The 22-year-old from Detroit had two traffic-related tickets dismissed when Wayne County prosecutors didn’t appear for his case.

“I was happy — got away with a lot,” he said leaving court.

Majors said he was prepared to plead guilty, but he saved hundreds of dollars in fees and court costs instead.

“Better get in here before it’s too late,” he said.

Detroit, where justice isn’t blind, so much as she’s broke.

Prosecutor no-shows amid Wayne County budget standoff lead to case dismissals [Detroit Free Press]
After layoff of 22 lawyers, prosecutor’s office stops covering some trials [ABA Journal]

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