Carnell Alexander says he got a shock during a traffic stop in the early 1990s. The officer arrested him, telling him he is a deadbeat dad.
When he appeared in court Alexander told the judge, he didn’t have any children. The court told him to find the woman.
The court gave him an old address. When he couldn’t find her, he says was told he would have to pay.
“It is such an unfair system,” said Alexander. “Period.”
He later learned that while he was in prison for a crime he committed as a young man, an ex listed him as father on an application for welfare benefits. Notice of the paternity hearing that followed was taken to his old house.
When he didn’t appear for the hearing he didn’t know about, he was made dad by default.
He went to court again and again, but could not get the matter resolved.
“No one ever listened until I met you,” said Alexander.
After 7 Action News told his story, an attorney volunteered to take on the case.
Cherika Harris says she did it because she is outraged by how the system treated Carnell Alexander.
“You declare him a deadbeat. You garnish his wages, take away his ability to make a living. That is an illegal taking. It is a violation of his constitutional rights,” said Harris.
Attorney Harris is preparing to appear before a Federal judge on Wednesday to argue that Alexander deserves to sue the state and Wayne County for violating his rights.
She says the case is important to protect others.
It is only as her suit has moved forward that Wayne County dismissed the child support case against her client. Alexander got official notice days ago, that after a 26-year-long fight he doesn’t owe child support for a child that is not his.
“So the judge has finally agreed with me that this shouldn’t have been done,” said Harris.
“Today I am happy that the debt has been lifted, but I am still hurt by what I have been through over 26 years,” said Alexander.