Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has pulled prosecutors out of all traffic court and domestic violence cases after her office laid off 22 prosecutors due to budget cuts. Now, with Detroit cutting its police force to a dangerous level, the chances of getting caught in a crime is much lower in the city and, if that does occur, the case may be dismissed due to a lack of a prosecutor. Defendants are finding themselves cleared without even having to raise a defense. It is not clear whether police will continue to make arrests in these areas if Worthy is not going to prosecute. Detroit has not only been hit with a falling population and the loss of the auto industry but a political system that has retained incompetent and corrupt politicians — many of whom have been under criminal investigation. As for Worthy, we have previously discussed her controversial prosecutorial decisions and her own scandal over a foreclosed home. I presume that among the cases that will not be prosecuted is Worthy’s prior controversial demand to prosecute parents who miss teacher-parent meetings at public schools.
This week, Worthy has pulled out prosecutors in traffic and domestic abuse cases, which have been dropped for lack of prosecution. That could pose a serious danger for abused citizens in domestic cases where the alleged abusers are being given an effective pass. However, Worthy insists that “my prosecutors … are overworked, underpaid, [and] have too much to do” after budget cuts to her staff.
Worthy, however, does have time to sue the county executive on the grounds that the budget for her office does not allow her to fulfill her constitutional duties. Such budgetary decisions are viewed as a political question generally. For a court to order the spending of more money would raise significant questions under the separation of powers doctrine and the political question doctrine.
Detroit’s fall into an urban nightmare is the result of decades of poor leadership, including scandals involving its police chief, that has now resulted in a fire department asking to allow buildings to buildings to burn, street lights turned off at night, and the termination of other basic services.