After pressure from more than 200,000 people, a judge has apologised for berating an elderly cancer patient about his untidy weeds.
Judge Alexis Krot told Burhan Chowdhury, 72, “If I could give you jail time on this, I would. The neighbours should not have to look at that,” she said in court.
“If you come back here, you’re going to jail,” Judge Krot asserted over the unkempt grass outside his home in suburban Detriot.
“You better get that cleaned up, that is totally inappropriate,” she concluded while doling out a $100 fine.
Bangladesh immigrant Mr Chowdhury appeared in a Zoom hearing on 10 January after getting a ticket in August 2021 due to the state of the overgrown plants on his property.
Burhan Chowdhury’s overgrown property in August
(31st District Court)
Audibly out of breath, he tried to explain to the judge: “I am a cancer patient, very old, ma’am,” he said, “I was then very weak … I cannot look after this thing.”
Following the hearing, a clip of the interaction went viral on social media and hundreds of thousands of people signed a Change.org petition demanding the judge’s resignation.
“This is disgusting and shameful!” wrote one person on the Change.org page. “Judges like her should be removed from the judicial system. Being a judge in a city like Hamtramck where almost all of its residents are immigrants or of an immigrant family, she needs to be more aware and understanding of how she talks and treats people.”
“How are we supposed to trust this justice system that lacks humanity?” wrote another.
Judge Krot apologised on 18 January. “I made a mistake … I acted intemperately,” wrote Judge Krot, in a statement seen by Detroit Free Press. “I’m very embarrassed that I did so. I apologise to the person who appeared before me and to our entire community for having failed to meet the high standards that we expect of our judicial officers, and that I expect of myself.”
“When someone appears before me and has made a mistake, I expect them to own up to it,” she continued.
“I expect nothing less than myself. No ifs, ands or buts: That is the reason I self-reported my behaviour to the judicial tenure commission. I had no legal duty to report myself to the commission. But I did so because, like apologising to the community, it was the right thing to do. I will continue to hold myself to the standards I set for others.”