Judge puts Detroit on the spot over pension remark - New York News

Judge puts Detroit on the spot over pension remark

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DETROIT (AP) -- A judge has challenged Detroit's emergency manager over his public remarks in June when he said city pensions can't be touched under Michigan law.

The exchange Monday between Judge Steven Rhodes and Kevyn Orr was unexpected. It came near the end of Orr's testimony in a trial that will determine whether Detroit will be allowed to stay in bankruptcy court and restructure $18 billion in debt.

Before the summer bankruptcy filing, Orr told a public audience that pensions were "sacrosanct" under the Michigan Constitution. The judge suddenly interrupted friendly questioning by a city lawyer and asked Orr, "What would you say to that retiree now?"

Orr gave a legal answer, saying pension rights could be trumped by federal law.    

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