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141181 - People v Parks (Michael)

The People of the State of Michigan,
Joel D. McGormley
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals),
(Ingham – Collette, W.)
Michael Joseph Parks,
Douglas W. Baker


​Dr. Michael Parks and Diane Parks divorced in November 2000. Parks was a rural doctor with a solo practice, who sometimes took work as a contract physician. The family court initially ordered him to pay $230 per week in child support for the parties’ three children, later increasing the amount to $761 per week.

After failing to pay child support from October 1, 2006 through July 15, 2008, Parks was charged with violating MCL 750.165, a felony charge. Evidence presented at trial established that, during that period, Parks made “several” requests for the family court to reduce his child support obligation, but did not provide documentation to support his claim that he could not afford to pay. In the criminal proceeding, Parks objected that his support payment was based on the assumption that he earned an income comparable to that of an urban physician working in a group practice, but that his income as a rural sole practitioner was significantly lower. He also testified that he was unable to pay, was disabled, and was receiving federal assistance. At the conclusion of the trial, the court found that Parks was guilty of violating MCL 750.165.

Parks appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed his conviction in an unpublished per curiam opinion. The Court of Appeals cited People v Adams, 262 Mich App 89 (2004), for the proposition that MCL 750.165 is a strict liability statute for which inability to pay is no defense. Parks appeals.