Detroit Magistrate fired after 'intemperate' remark in court - KMSP-TV

Detroit Magistrate fired after 'intemperate' remark in court

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(WJBK) -

Magistrate Stephen Lockhart has been a magistrate at 36th District Court for more than 13 years and, now, his career is over allegedly because of what he said in court this past Friday.

Sources tell Fox 2 a woman appeared in his courtroom Friday who owed nearly four thousand dollars in fines. Lockhart ordered she be held in Wayne County Jail on a two thousand dollar bond. Her attorney told Lockhart she was three months pregnant, was having problems with the pregnancy and didn't have a job so she couldn't make bond. Lockhart's response implied she and her baby would then die in jail.

People in the courtroom gasped.

Judge Kenneth King has worked with Lockhart. He doesn't have the details of the case but he says one thing is clear: "It's unfortunate. As judges and magistrates here at 36th District Court it's important that we be balanced; that we be firm; that we be compassionate."

But sources tell Fox 2 while Lockhart's comments may have been inappropriate he's in a tough situation. 36th District Court is in the midst of a financial emergency, just like the city that funds it. And judges and magistrates are under intense pressure from the court administrator to collect every outstanding dime, and that can mean sending those who can't pay to jail. But that wasn't enough to save his job.

"We can't just go by or take the same excuses that a lot of us have been guilty of over the years. We have to get those cost and fines paid. And sometimes we have to be firm, but that doesn't mean that we have to cross the line," King adds.

Fox 2's Alexis Wiley reports the court administrator would not go into detail about this case but he would say that Lockhart was fired for making "intemperate" remarks.

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