Judge says she 'made a mistake' berating an elderly cancer patient over weeds

·3 min read

DETROIT – Michigan Judge Alexis Krot has apologized to an elderly cancer patient she berated and threatened with jail time over some unkempt weeds outside his home. And she said she's reporting herself to a state commission that probes judicial misbehavior.

"I made a mistake," Krot said in a statement shared with the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, by the court Thursday. "I acted intemperately. I'm very embarrassed that I did so. I apologize 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."

Krot has drawn widespread condemnation and media attention over her comments during an online court hearing last week captured on a Zoom video that circulated on social media. A petition drive to remove her from the court has garnered more than 228,000 signatures as of Thursday evening, one of the most popular petitions on Change.org.

Judge Alexis G. Krot of 31rst District Court in Hamtramck has apologized to a man she berated and threatened with jail time over unkempt weeds outside his home.
Judge Alexis G. Krot of 31rst District Court in Hamtramck has apologized to a man she berated and threatened with jail time over unkempt weeds outside his home.

Burhan Chowdhury, 72, appeared along with his son for the Jan. 10 hearing on a ticket issued in August over some overgrowth of grass in an area outside his home in Hamtramck.

"You should be ashamed of yourself," Krot told Chowdhury during the hearing in comments that were later posted on Facebook. "If I could give you jail time on this, I would."

She threatened him with jail a second time near the the end of the hearing, saying: "If you come back here, you're going to jail."

During the hearing, Chowdhury sounded sick, wheezing as he spoke.

Previously reported: Judge blasts 72-year-old cancer patient for overgrown lawn

"I am a cancer patient, very old, ma'am," he said. "I was then very weak. ... I cannot look after this thing."

Photos of the outside of the home were shown during the hearing.

Despite his pleas, Krot said she would fine him $100: "Did you see that photo? That is shameful, shameful. The neighbors should not have to look at that."

Krot struck a different tone in her statement, which was dated Jan. 18, printed on 31st District Court letterhead and posted on the court's website.

"When someone appears before me and has made a mistake, I expect them to own up to it," Krot said. "I expect nothing less than myself. No ifs, ands or buts: That is the reason I self reported my behavior to the judicial tenure commission. I had no legal duty to report myself to the commission. But I did so because, like apologizing to the community, it was the right thing to do. I will continue to hold myself to the standards I set for others."

Krot's behavior drew criticism from some immigrant advocates who say the incident reflected hostility that some minorities and immigrants face in local courts.

Chowdhury is an immigrant from Bangladesh, and more than 41% of Hamtramck's residents are immigrants, the highest percentage among cities in the U.S. About half of the city has roots in Bangladesh or Yemen, according to the Census.

The upkeep of city roads, sidewalks and alleyways in Hamtramck has been the subject of debate in recent years, with some urging more enforcement of city codes. But during the mayoral and city council campaigns last year, some said communication between the city and its immigrant residents needs to be improved, such as having city employees or translators who speak their native languages. Instead of just cracking down, the city should try to educate and communicate with residents, some candidates said.

Chowdhury and his son could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Follow Niraj Warikoo on Twitter: @nwarikoo

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan judge apologizes to cancer patient she scolded over weeds

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