A hardline judge has fined, ridiculed and ruled that a 72-year-old Michigan man with lymphoma “should be ashamed” of being too weak to mow his overgrown lawn.
Burhan Chowdhury of Hamtramck, a community about six miles north of Detroit, admittedly fell behind in yard maintenance after he was diagnosed with cancer of the lymph nodes in 2019. His overgrown property prompted local officials to subpoena Chowdhury.
In now-viral footage of the Zoom court hearing on Jan. 10, Chowdhury’s breathing appeared labored as Judge Alexis G. Krot of the 31st District Court berated him.
“You should be ashamed of yourself,” says Krot, in a video shared Jan. 12 on social media, and viewed more than 37,500 times as of Thursday morning. “If I could give you jail time on this, I would.”
“You’ve got to get that cleaned up. That is totally inappropriate,” she continues after ordering he pay a $100 fine for the eyesore.
Chowdhury’s son, Shibbir, 33, was also present, and spoke on behalf of his father when he told Judge Krot that cancer treatments had left his dad very weak — and prevented him from mowing the lawn lately.
For years, Shibbir helped his struggling father around the house, but had been in Bangladesh for three months prior to Chowdhury’s citation on Aug. 2.
Rhetorically, the judge shoots back: “Do you see that photo? That is shameful. Shameful. The neighbors should not have to look at that.”
Since Tuesday, nearly 10,000 social media watchdogs have signed a petition on Change.org to demand Judge Krot be removed from her seat. “She has a history of being bigoted to immigrants,” the petitioner alleges.
The petition also pointed to a post on Instagram by Detroit crime blogger @crimeinthed_detroit, where one follower quipped, “Who appointed Karen as judge?”
Judge Krot has not returned requests for comment about the petition, as her role as a judge forbids her from making statements about the case, according to Detroit news station WDIV.
Meanwhile, Shibbir told WDIV he acknowledged the “mistakes” that led his family to break a city ordinance.
He also told the Washington Post, “She was telling my father, a sick person, that he should go to jail. That’s ridiculous. You can’t give a 72-year-old person jail time for not cleaning an alley. I was really shocked by it. I didn’t expect her to yell at us in this kind of a situation.”
Shibbir paid his dad’s ticket on Wednesday, according to Insider, while also receiving support online from those who witnessed the disturbing public hearing.
“People understand that a situation like this can happen with someone who is old or sick,” he said.