31st District Court Alexis G. Krot
A Michigan judge has apologized amid widespread criticism of comments she made to a 72-year-old man with cancer about the maintenance of his yard.
During a Jan. 10 court appearance, which was captured via Zoom, Hamtramck District Judge Alexis G. Krot told Burhan Chowdhury that he "should be ashamed" of his overgrown lawn, according to NBC affiliate WDIV.
Although Chowdhury told the judge he was "very weak" due to his health, the judge went on to tell him, "If I could give you jail time on this, I would."
Doubling down at the end of the hearing, the judge told him, "If you come back here, you're going to jail," per the Detroit Free Press.
In a statement posted on the court's website on Thursday, Krot expressed regret over her remarks.
"I made a mistake," Krot said. "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."
The judge went on to share that she had decided to report herself to the Judicial Tenure Commission.
"When someone appears before me and has made a mistake, I expect them to own up to it. I expect nothing less of myself. No ifs, ands or buts: that is the reason I self-reported my behavior to the Judicial Tenure Commission," Krot wrote. "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."
As of Friday, a Change.org petition has garnered over 235,000 signatures calling for the judge's removal.
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The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, which is prohibited from commenting on specific cases, told The Washington Post that the commission has the power to recommend that judges be censured, suspended or removed pending investigation.
"It takes seriously all complaints that a Michigan judge has violated the ethical rules that govern judges," executive director and general counsel Lynn Helland told the newspaper. "The action the Commission takes depends on the judge's history and all of the circumstances disclosed by the investigation."
Chowdhury was diagnosed with cancer in February 2019, years after moving to the United States from Bangladesh, his son, Shibbir Chowdhury, told the Washington Post.
Shibbir, who was present for the Jan. 10 court hearing, told the newspaper that his father also suffered from a heart issue and high blood pressure, and that his mother has health issues as well.
After the family was issued a ticket in August, they cleaned up the property, according to the Post. However, they still had to make a court appearance over a $100 fine, which has since been paid.
Shibbir previously told the Post that he had been "shocked" by the judge's behavior in court.
"She was telling my father, a sick person, that he should go to jail. That's ridiculous," he said. "You can't give a 72-year-old person jail time for not cleaning an alley."