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A judge shamed and fined a cancer patient for his unkept yard and said if jail time was an option, she’d order it

By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

A father and son appeared for an online court appointment for a citation they received for their unkept yard in Michigan, but instead of a slap on the wrist from the judge, the father was berated.

Burhan Chowdhury, 72, a cancer patient, was given a citation in May 2021 for not keeping up with the yard work at his Hamtramck home, his son Shibbir told CNN Thursday.

Shibbir, an only child, was in Bangladesh from May to August and wasn’t aware of the ticket until he returned. Immediately upon returning he made necessary arrangements to appear in court for the citation on Monday, January 10, he said.

During the appearance, Burhan appeared with Shibbir there to help bridge the language gap, since the older man doesn’t speak a great deal of English, Shibbir said.

Burhan has lymphoma, a cancer that has attacked his lymph nodes and left his body weak, Shibbir said.

District Judge Alexis G. Krot had strong words of her own to share.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Krot said during the court appearance regarding the yard work, as seen in an online recording of the Zoom appearance. “Have you seen that photo? That is shameful.”

Krot was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Snyder in August 2016 and elected by the people of the City of Hamtramck in November 2018.

CNN reached out to Krot and the Hamtramck 31st District Court by email and phone but has not heard back.

“If I could give you jail time on this I would,” Krot went on to say. “That is totally inappropriate.”

Since the video circulated online, many online have expressed outrage over Kroft’s comments. It’s unclear from the video if the judge heard Burhan’s mention of his cancer treatment.

Typically, before Burhan’s cancer diagnosis three years ago, Shibbir said he, his mother and Burhan would all work on the yard together. While he was in Bangladesh, his mother fell down the stairs and hurt her back, leaving no one to do any yard work while he was away.

As soon as he returned, Shibbir said he cleaned up the yard himself.

“My father was trying to explain that he was sick and he had cancer, but (he was) feeling shame,” Shibbir said. “We didn’t expect she could tell us like this. Maybe she could have told us more respectfully or maybe, like, normally how people speak,” he said referring to the judge.

The Chowdhury family have lived in their Michigan home since 2015 and say they love the neighborhood and never had any issues until now. Hamtramck is 6 miles outside of Detroit.

Shibbir admits the state of the yard broke the city ordinance and will pay a fine of $100, he said.

“I am the only earning member (of the family) so I have to do everything,” he said. “I have to do the work, I have to do the study, I have to do the nursery, I have to do everything so it’s especially very difficult for me to like take care of all of this stuff together so mistakes can happen.”

Shibbir thinks a neighbor filed a complaint with the city, but he’s not sure. If that’s the case, he says he wishes the neighbor would have just talked to him about the yard themselves before escalating the situation.

“I just want these things will never, never happen to anybody else,” he said. “Because that’s what I feel is kind of like racism, It doesn’t matter whether she apologizes because she already did what she did.”

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