DETROIT, Mich. (PIX11) — A man says he got the shock of his life during a traffic stop in Detroit in the early 1990s. The officer told him that he was deadbeat dad, and that he was under arrest. The problem was — the man didn’t have any kids.
According to WXYZ, Carnell Alexander had been made dad by default after an ex listed him as father when applying for welfare benefits. According to documents filed with the court, a process server claimed to have given Alexander, in person, a notice of hearing at a house he once lived at. It is something that wasn’t possible. Alexander wasn’t at that house on the date he was allegedly served. He was incarcerated for a crime he committed as a young man.
On Tuesday, he went to the Third Judicial Circuit Court, hoping a judge would fix it.
Instead, his story inspired a different kind of outrage.
Judge Kathleen McCarthy says she is outraged that it took Alexander over two decades to “take this matter seriously.”
She ruled that Alexander should have filed a motion to set aside the acknowledgement of parentage long ago. Because this case is now more than two and a half decades old, the judge ruled Alexander must pay. She said he did not argue against owing this money in the past.
Alexander says there is a good reason for him not filing that motion — he said he had no income and no savings with an eighth grade education and could not find a lawyer to help him.
He says while he may not have filed a certain motion required by the bureaucratic court system, he did make sure Friend of the Court workers and judges on the case knew he was not this child’s father, had never been in the child’s life, and didn’t want to be held responsible.
Carnell says he tried for decades to track down the mother of the child for a DNA test. It wasn’t until 2013 that he got his proof that he wasn’t the father and wanted again to prove his case.
The real father has been in the life of the now adult child, unlike Alexander.
Cherika Harris took on the case pro-bono after learning about it on the news. As of Tuesday, he still owes more than $30,000 in child support. Alexander says he understands he may owe money according to the fine print of the law, but he will never believe it is right.