Detroit — Prosecutors were again a no-show today at 36th District Court as a budget battle between the Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano continued.
Chief Judge Kenneth King said he wouldn't know the full impact concerning cases until later Tuesday. He acknowledged it is a problem for the court because serious cases including drunken driving and suspended licenses had to be dismissed. The cases also generate significant revenue for the court.
King said he met with Worthy Tuesday and that he now has a "better understanding" of her budget concerns.
"But I hope it's resolved soon," King said.
In Judge Lydia Nance Adams courtroom, several traffic cases were dismissed because of the lack of a prosecutor. Adams criticized the decision not to send prosecutors into the court, saying "it was not a good call" for lawyers not to show up for work.
Meanwhile, Adams told Boyd Blessed that he "truly was blessed" as she dismissed six traffic tickets including citations for a suspended license and no proof of insurance because no one was there to handle the state charges.
Wayne County Commissioner Shannon Price said Worthy is shunning her responsibilities.
"She's putting politics before priority. She knew last year that her budget had been cut," said Price, R-Canton. "She's refused to live within that budget."
The employees that lost their jobs are contract employees whose contracts expired, Price said.
"She was informed the contracts would not be renewed because she was over budget," Price said. "She could have worked something out with the court on timing or caseloads. She never reached out to the court and now she's playing politics."
Worthy has scheduled a Wednesday press conference to discuss the issue. Spokeswoman Maria Miller declined to provide statements Tuesday.
Normally, two Wayne County assistant prosecutors are assigned to 36th District Court and handle about 40 percent of its cases — violations of state statutes, including serious matters such as drunken driving and suspended drivers licenses. The rest of the cases are handled by attorneys who work for the City of Detroit. Those cases include parking violations, traffic fines and city ordinance violations.
Last year, Ficano proposed a $25.6 million budget for Worthy's office. The budget was approved by county commissioners. Worthy then sued the county saying she was promised — and needs — at least $34 million to properly run the department.
On Friday, 22 attorneys, three investigators and a clerical worker were laid off to trim costs.
Detroit News reporter Steve Pardo contributed.