February 25, 2015
BY Robert Franklin, Esq., Member of the Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
A Michigan judge has pronounced herself “outraged” at Carnell Alexander’s case. Alexander is the Michigan man whom the state is dunning for $30,000 in back child support for a child all acknowledge isn’t his. Way back in the early 90s, a woman who had a child received federal benefits under the aid to Families with Dependent Children program. That meant she was required to name the child’s father. She named Alexander despite her admission that she knew at the time that he wasn’t the dad.
So the state brought a legal action against Alexander to repay it for the benefits paid the mother, plus child support. But Alexander was never served with notice of the suit against him. The process server signed an affidavit saying he’d served Alexander at a particular residence, but Alexander can prove he didn’t receive it. How? Because Alexander was in jail on the date he was supposedly served with notice.
Based on those two lies – the first by the mother, the second by the process server – the state entered a judgment for child support against Alexander, in his absence and without his knowledge, that it’s been trying to collect ever since.
It’s in that context that Judge Kathleen McCarthy said she was “outraged” last week. The kicker is that she’s not outraged at the mother for lying to state child support authorities, although doing so violates the law. Nor is she outraged at the process server for swearing to the court that Alexander had received notice of the action against him, which is also against the law. No, Judge McCarthy is outraged at Alexander!
“I am outraged that Mr. Alexander for two and a half decades failed to take this matter seriously,” McCarthy said during her decision on Tuesday, according to KFOR.
Yes, apparently blaming the victim is just fine as long as the victim is an impecunious man with an eighth-grade education like Alexander. Just how McCarthy expects Alexander to have known about the lawsuit or the child, she didn’t explain.
But apparently her outrage doesn’t stop with Alexander, but extends to the news media across the country that have excoriated her court for its abuse of an innocent man. That of course would include the blog for the National Parents Organization that, on more than one occasion has pointed out that the most basic concept underpinning due process of law is that one has the right to be notified of a claim against one. So basic is that concept that a court like McCarthy’s has no personal jurisdiction in any case in which the person has not been served with process. Without jurisdiction, the original order is now and always has been null and void. That is black-letter law.
By the way, McCarthy is not just any old judge, she is the number one family court judge for Detroit. But apparently knowing basic law is not a requirement for the job.
McCarthy could better direct her pique at the child’s mother, the process server and the numerous lawyers who, over many years, have wasted everyone’s time and money trying to browbeat a man into paying support for a child he had no part in bringing into the world.
As an aside, the mother well knows who the true father is and the man has played at least some role in bringing up the child. All the state needs to do is dismiss the case against Alexander and bring suit against that man. Justice in this case is literally as simple as that.