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

Burhan Chowdhury, 72, a cancer patient, got a quote in May 2021 for not keeping up with the yard work at his Hamtramck home, his son Schipper told CNN Thursday.

Shabbir, the only child, was in Bangladesh from May to August and was not aware of the ticket until he returned. Upon his return, he said, he made arrangements to appear in court on Monday, January 10.

During the encore, Burhan showed up with Spear there to help bridge the language gap, because the older man doesn’t speak much English, Spear said.

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

District Judge Alexis J. Crut had strong words of her own to share.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Kraut said during his court appearance in connection with the yard work, as seen in an online recording of a Zoom appearance. “Did you see that picture? That’s shameful.”

Crott was appointed to the bench by Governor Rick Snyder in August 2016 and elected by the residents of Hamtramck in November 2018.

CNN contacted Crot and the 31st Hamtramck District Court via email and phone, but received no response.

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“If I can give you a prison sentence on this matter, I will,” Crott continued. “This is totally inappropriate.”

Since the video has circulated online, many online have expressed outrage at Croft’s comments. It was not clear from the video whether the judge had listened to Burhan’s reference to his cancer treatment.

Usually, before Burhan’s cancer diagnosis three years ago, Speer said he, his mother, and Burhan would all work in the yard together. While in Bangladesh, his mother fell down the stairs and hit her in the back, never letting anyone do any work in the yard while he was away.

Shabeer said that as soon as he got back he cleaned the yard himself.

“My dad was trying to explain that he was sick and had cancer, but (he) was ashamed,” Speer said. “We didn’t expect her to tell us like that,” he said, referring to the judge. “Maybe she could have told us more respectfully or maybe, like, usually how people talk.”

The Chowdhury family has lived in their Michigan home since 2015 and say they love the neighborhood and haven’t had any problems so far. Hamtramck is 6 miles outside of Detroit.

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Speer admits that the yard broke city code and would pay a $100 fine, he said.

“I am the only member who earns money (in the family) so I have to do everything,” he said. “I have to do work, I have to study, I have to do babysitting, I have to do everything, so it’s very difficult for me especially to take care of all these things together until mistakes happen.”

Speer thinks a neighbor has lodged a complaint with the city, but is unsure. If so, he says he wishes the neighbor had just spoken to him about the yard before the situation escalated.

“I just want these things to never happen to anyone else,” he said. “Because that’s how I feel kind of racist, it doesn’t matter if she’s apologizing because she did what she actually did.”

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