Traffic fines unpaid in budget skirmish

March 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM
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DETROIT, March 19 (UPI) -- Cases in Detroit's traffic courts have been dismissed or adjourned after prosecutors failed to show in court, officials say.

The absences of the two attorneys normally assigned to prosecute state traffic laws were prompted by an ongoing budget skirmish between two of Wayne County's top officials, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says she can't run her office on the $25.4 million budget County Executive Robert Ficano has given her. Ficano says he can't give Worthy the $34 million she requested.

The county told Worthy Friday she would lose 22 attorneys, three investigators and a weekend clerk.

As a result of the shortfall, Worthy said she is not able to perform all of her constitutionally prescribed duties.

Ficano spokeswoman June West said while county commissioners are responsible for making up the budget, it was Worthy's decision "where she wants to spend the money the county commissioners appropriate for her."

While defendants were happy they didn't have to pay traffic fines, the interoffice dustup means a decline in revenue for the 36th District Court, which is already battling to collect $34 million in fees and costs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Jail operations also could be impacted, said Paula Bridges, a spokeswoman for Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Each day the trial of an inmate is delayed by the budget battle adds $140 to the cost of keeping that defendant behind bars, she said.

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