“State tells Detroit man: Pay for child that isn’t yours or go to jail!”

As we noted in October on the case of Carnell Alexander, once the state’s Deadbeat Dad game starts against you, actual innocence may be only one of many cards in play. [WXYZ]

10 Comments

  • While we obviously don’t want to force people to pay child support for children who aren’t theirs, what alternative is there to enforcing courts’ judgments? There are ways to vacate defaults like this, especially given the apparent lack of notice. But the factual incorrectness of the decision underlying a judgment can’t be a valid reason on its own to overturn the judgment. Otherwise, how would there be any finality to litigation?

  • James, the judgment was invalid to begin with. The guy had a default judgment against him because he failed to show up in court. Yet he could prove the summons he supposedly was served was fraudulent because he was in jail on an unrelated matter somewhere else.

    I wonder if he should attack this problem from the opposite direction, by acting like a parent. After all, since the state thinks he’s the father, maybe he should sue for parental rights and even attempt to get full custody? That might get the real father to step forward and start paying up when he’s suddenly threatened with losing his son!

  • James, you forgot the /s tag

  • The process server’s name should be on file somewhere. With Mr. Alexander having an air-tight alibi (prison), prosecution of the server should be a slam dunk unless the statute of limitations has run out. This is perhaps a case the state may wish to correct quietly and move on, as the server could have a history that includes more than one mistake, with all sorts of headaches for the state flowing from this.

  • “While we obviously don’t want to execute people for crimes they didn’t commit, what alternative is there to enforcing courts’ judgments? There are ways to vacate defaults like this, especially given the apparent lack of notice. But the factual incorrectness of the decision underlying a judgment can’t be a valid reason on its own to overturn the judgment. Otherwise, how would there be any finality to litigation?”

    James – are you REALLY arguing that facts don’t matter and that the innocent should be wrongly punished for the effing sake of PROCESS!?!?!?!?!

  • Ok, I get it. Most of the people here are lawyers, that’s why the first four comments deal with the “actual incorrectness of the decision underlying a judgment can’t be a valid reason on its own to overturn the judgment” or something thereabouts.

    How about the idea of… that’s not right, coming into play. Simplistic I know, but who knows, it might catch on.

  • This is tyranny. Pure and simple.

    In a just society, every lawyer involved with that arrest warrant would themselves be clapped in irons.

  • Still no mention of the lying mother taking responsibility or trying to help the guy. That’s where the problem started. She called out the state to go after this guy and now what? Maybe she could do a little time just for the sake of equality.

  • There are procedures to deal with default judgments when process isn’t properly served. The solution is not, as appears to be the case here, to simply refuse to pay and claim (albeit persuasively) that you are not the father. Judgments need to be enforced until vacated. It’s not that facts don’t matter, it’s that, as between a judgment signed by a judge and a litigant saying that judgment is wrong, the judgment must always win. There are ways to change, vacate, and otherwise modify judgments, but simply saying they’re wrong is not one of them.

    Think about this from the perspective of a case less likely to enflame passions. You litigate a tort case and lose, but later have strong evidence that undermines the factual determination that made you lose. You wouldn’t think, oh, that means I don’t have to pay anymore. You’d use that evidence to try to vacate the judgment and get a new trial. This is a similar situation.

  • @James–
    1. Unlike defense attorneys, whose sole duty is to their clients, prosecutors have a a concurrent,superior duty to truth and justice: they have a duty to drop a bad case. The worst nightmare of an honorable prosecutor is to “win” a case that ruins the life of an innocent man.

    2. In theory, the aggrieved non-father can hire a lawyer to reopen his case, but where is a man in a revolving door in and out of debtor’s prison going to save up the money for a lawyer?
    This could be addressed, however if there were a robust program to reimburse lawyers for representing innocent men cheated by bureaucracy.