Attorney cannot practice
LINCOLN PARK — An attorney charged with falsifying
hundreds of court documents remains out of a job until his own legal affairs are
Consid-ering the severity of the allegations against him, 25th District Judge
David Bajorek told attorney Howard Alan Katz on Thursday that allowing him to
practice law at this time would "impose a serious threat to the community at
Katz is charged with 308 counts of criminal contempt of court. A jury will
hear his case Sept. 29. Each count is punishable by 30 days in jail and a $250
fine. If convicted, Katz faces the possibility of about 25 years in prison and a
Katz originally was charged with 311 counts, but Bajorek dismissed three of
them at Thursday's court hearing.
David DuMouchel, one of at least three attorneys Katz has hired to represent
him, said keeping his client away from his profession until the matter is
resolved is an "unnecessary condition" and "unreasonable constraint."
"The public doesn't need protection from Mr. Katz," DuMouchel said. "Whatever
was done, was done."
Attorney John Gillooly, who was appointed by Bajorek as the court's special
prosecutor in this case, said Katz should remain barred from practicing law "in
order to ensure the integrity of the judicial system."
As the senior partner of his family's Southfield firm Katz & Katz, which
specializes in debt collection, Katz represents a number of large corporations,
including Henry Ford Hospital and Credit Acceptance Corp.
When he goes after someone to collect an overdue bill, Katz is accused of
filing fraudulent court documents saying that he notified the person when to
appear in court when really he didn't.
And when the person doesn't appear, Katz seeks — and often gets — a default
judgment from the court, allowing him to collect the past due money by
garnisheeing the person's wages. In some cases, he's accused of seizing people's
vehicles and income tax returns.
Jackie Swearingen, a spokeswoman for Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, attended
Thursday's court hearing.
"We're watching it very closely," she said.
The majority of the charges Katz is facing stem from debt cases he handled
for the Wyandotte hospital.
After The News-Herald Newspapers broke this story last Sunday, it gained
statewide media attention, causing dozens of people to contact the newspaper
saying Katz has victimized them.
Nearly all of them have one thing in common: They never knew they were being
sued or even had a court date until their wages were garnisheed.
Shannon Kirby of Wyandotte said that's exactly what happened in her family
after her husband picked up his paycheck one day and noticed it was less than
After some digging, she said, they discovered Katz's firm was behind the
"When I called their office and asked why weren't we notified, their reply
was they weren't obligated to, and when I asked if we could work something out,
their reply was, 'No, we don't need to. We have the garnishment,'" she said.
In the end, Kirby said, her family filed for bankruptcy to put a stop to the
"It just disgusts me," she said. "I must say, however, that karma really
works and I hope to see him get what he deserves."
Since the charges were first filed earlier this month, Katz has remained
silent. After making several court appearances, he has refused to talk to the
media, and his attorneys have kept their comments to a minimum, saying only that
they expect Katz to be vindicated.
Someone with the same last name, however, had words for the media coverage
the case has received.
After a story was published recently in The News-Herald, a woman called the
newspaper and left a message on a reporter's voicemail.
"We're coming after you," she said in a soft voice. "You're an a—hole."
Using caller identification, the phone number was traced to a Southfield
cellphone. The reporter called the number and was connected to a voice mail
recording, which said the phone belonged to Nancy Katz. A message was left, but
the call was not returned.
Besides being barred from practicing law, Howard Katz also has been forbidden
from leaving the state, walking onto the premises of his law practice and
initiating contact with any of his firm's clients
His firm also was ordered to remove his name from its automated answering
service and to mail a letter to all of its clients informing them that Katz is
forbidden from practicing law at this time.
Contact Staff Writer Jason Alley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-734-246-0867.
Click here to return to story: