Deadbeats? 36th District Court Owed Millions It Can’t Collect

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Charlie-Langton Charlie Langton
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DETROIT (WWJ) Talk about deadbeats! A certain group of people owe lots of money to Detroit’s 36th District Court in speeding tickets, parking tickets and drunken driving fines — but the court may never collect, according to WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton.

The court is owed about $250 million, per the state’s financial review team. But 70,000 of those who owe money are dead.

“If I collected from every dead person, I don’t think we’d put a number on that because those people, most often, have more than one ticket,” said Chief Judge Kenneth King.

He estimated there are millions of dollars in money that can’t be collected because the fines have lagged so long, the person who owed the money has passed on.

How to handle it? The court is planning more aggressive collection efforts, King said. He praised state-appointed emergency manager Kevin Orr, saying he’s working on the problem — and sweeps are in the works to pick up people who owe the court money.

“One, he’s one person, as opposed to having to deal with 10 personalities, and two, he’s a lawyer,” King said.

As a lawyer, Orr understands the court’s needs, King said. “With everybody being so focused on money, money, money, that was not the court’s core function, to generate revenue, it’s to dispense justice.”

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