Cox to be deposed Dec. 11 in slain dancer suit

The Detroit News is reporting, “Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox will be deposed next month by the lawyer representing relatives of slain dancer Tamara Greene, although his statements will be sealed until further notice, a federal judge said Tuesday.

“Cox’s deposition in the lawsuit by Greene’s family against the city of Detroit is tentatively planned for Dec. 11.

“Greene, linked to a long-rumored but never proven 2002 party at the Manoogian Mansion, was killed in a Detroit drive-by shooting in 2003. Her family claims city and police officials obstructed the investigation of her murder. The city denies the allegations.

“Cox investigated the rumored party and concluded it was an ‘urban legend.’ State police investigators, who were later deposed by Norman Yatooma, the attorney for Greene’s family, claim Cox quashed their investigation into whether the party ever happened.”



AG: No pending drunken driving prosecution necessary to get blood alcohol results

A county prosecutor does not need to initiate a criminal prosecution before obtaining blood alcohol test results from a medical facility treating a driver involved in a traffic accident.

That’s the formal opinion of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, in response to a query from Alger County Prosecuting Attorney Karen A. Bahrman.

Cox, in Opinion No. 7237, phrased Barhman’s question as “whether, under subsection (6)(e) of section 625a of the Michigan Vehicle Code, MCL 257.625a(6)(e), an actual criminal prosecution must be pending before a prosecutor may obtain the results of blood alcohol tests taken by a medical facility in the course of providing medical treatment to a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident.”

Bahrman had “consistently interpreted this section as authorizing a prosecutor to secure blood alcohol test results before seeking a warrant where an accident occurred that involved other evidence of intoxication while driving.”

Cox, in his opinion, said that Bahrman’s interpretation is correct.

Reading the operative words of MCL 257.625a(6)(e) in context, the phrase “for use in a criminal prosecution as provided in this subdivision [subdivision (e) of subsection (6)]” plainly operates as a limitation on the purpose for which the test results may be used by a prosecutor who requests them, but it does not impose a particular time frame within which a request for results must be made or imply the stage of criminal proceedings that must have been reached before results may be requested or disclosed. That is, once requested, the results of a chemical analysis must be disclosed in order for a prosecutor to use them “to show the amount of alcohol or presence of a controlled substance or both in the person’s blood at the time alleged” in a criminal proceeding. Had the Legislature intended the phrase to only apply in connection with a “pending” criminal prosecution, it could have included this qualifier; in the absence of language providing this additional temporal requirement, however, one may not be implied.

Long trail of campaign signs makes extra work for state police

Troopers of all sorts were busy last weekend handling campaign signs for Attorney General Mike Cox, who wants to be elected governor, and others who want to be the state’s next attorney general, according to Lansing State Journal columnist John Schneider.

Schneider’s column frequently serves as a soapbox for the outraged Everyman, in this case, a reader miffed about loyal political troopers who apparently pointed the way to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference by placing campaign signs along the shoulder of I-75 north of Grayling.

To be clear, backers of several candidates participated in the signfest, but, according to Schneider’s column, signs for Cox and others vying for the state attorney general’s office were the most prevalent.

Schneider’s reader-informant, Phil Birdsall, said in Cheboygan county, there were “hundreds” of signs along the highway. In an e-mail to Schneider, Birdsall fumed:

“Every one of these signs was posted illegally on a public right-of-way, and here’s the kicker: Most of the signs were for Mike Cox (the state’s chief law enforcement officer), and potential candidates for Attorney General – the very office charged with enforcing the laws of the state.

“You won’t find a more arrogant disregard for the law anywhere, anytime.”

Other troopers, officers from the State Police Post in Gaylord, were dispatched to yank up the signs. At least 50 were removed in Otsego County alone, leading Sgt. Denny Reynolds to grumble that there were better uses of taxpayer money than picking up the signs.

Schneider tried getting a response from the AG but got the telephone run-around instead.

Whitmer files paperwork for AG candidacy

Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) made her bid for the state attorney general’s office official by filing candidacy paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office on Friday, reports The Grand Rapids Press.

According to a report in Friday’s Capitol Capsule from Michigan Information and Research Service,

Whitmer plans on continuing to run for her state Senate seat and if selected as the Democratic nominee in August of next year, the Ingham County Democratic party would pick a replacement candidate. Reps. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing), Joan Bauer (D-Lansing), Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) and former State Rep. Paul DeWeese of Williamston would be considered likely candidates for the open seat.

The Michigan Republican Party was quick to go on the offensive.

“One has to ask, does Gretchen Whitmer want to be attorney general or does she just want to boost her ego,” said Greg McNeilly, Interim Executive Director.

“In her tenure in the state Legislature — whether the House or Senate — Whitmer has done more to add to partisan politics than she has to help benefit residents of the state. She’s a liberal elitist who prefers to build her resume at the expense of hard-working families. Michigan doesn’t need another Jennifer Granholm clone seeking fame and glory over the best interests of residents.”

Meanwhile, The Detroit News reports that former Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette was the favorite choice of GOPers’ attending the every-other-year Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island this past weekend.

Schuette led the attorney general’s race with 697 votes, or 57.51 percent. Mike Bishop got 446, and State Sen. Bruce Patterson got 69.

Former COA judge announces bid for state AG

Former Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette makes it official today: he’ll formally announce his candidacy for the 2010 state attorney general’s race, reports The Associated Press.

Schuette will hit Midland, Southfield, Lansing and Grand Rapids to make his campaign announcement.

Presumably, he’ll be updating his website, which for weeks has contained this message:

Bill Schuette
For Attorney General
Congressman. Department Director. State Senator. Court of Appeals Judge. Husband and dad. Bill Schuette has the strength and experience to put safety first as Michigan’s top law enforcement leader.

Other than the above blurb, the site has featured a sign-up box to get a newsletter from Schuette and a promise that “New Website Coming Soon.”

Today, maybe?

Blame it on Kwame

Detroit attorney Sam McCargo was “hung out to dry” by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, according to former State Bar of Michigan President Thomas Cranmer, who testified as a defense witness at McCargo’s hearing before the Attorney Discipline Board last Friday.

Cranmer said, according to a report in The Detroit News, it’s not at all clear whether McCargo violated the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

From The Detroit News:

McCargo has been described as “the architect” of a secret settlement of a police whistle-blower suit that kept under wraps explosive and sexually explicit text messages between Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff Christine Beatty.

The settlement, under which the city paid $8.4 million to settle two civil lawsuits brought by three former police officers, was struck on Oct. 17, 2007 — the same day police attorney Michael Stefani showed McCargo a proposed court brief that quoted extensively from steamy text messages. They showed both Kilpatrick and Beatty had lied under oath at the whistle-blower trial. …

McCargo is charged with breaking state ethical rules for attorneys by not telling the judge in the case that Kilpatrick had lied and that Stefani had violated a judge’s order by receiving the text messages directly from the city’s former pager company, SkyTel, instead of through the court.

But Cranmer testified the ethical rules for attorneys in Michigan lack clarity. In trying to interpret them, “you’re left, I think, at sea, oftentimes,” testified Cranmer, a former president of the state bar who has served as a panelist and chairman for the discipline board. “This case is a perfect example of that.”

Cranmer testified that after Stefani advised McCargo about the text messages, McCargo had a duty to discuss the issue with his client and try to investigate further by obtaining the text messages. He said he believes McCargo attempted to do that.

He testified he doesn’t believe McCargo had a duty to go to Wayne Circuit Judge Michael Callahan, who presided over the 2007 whistle-blower trial, because the existence of an affair between Kilpatrick and Beatty was not “material” to the whistle-blower case and McCargo also had a duty to protect Kilpatrick’s secrets.

Testimony concluded Friday. If the ADB decides McCargo violated ethics rules, he would face a variety of potential sanctions, ranging from a reprimand to losing his law license.

Meanwhile, The Detroit Free Press reports that Kilpatrick’s use of nearly $1 million in campaign funds to defend himself against criminal charges could lead to some legislative reform of how campaign cash may be used in Michigan.

From The Freep:

State Sen. Gilda Jacobs, a Huntington Woods Democrat, has asked Attorney General Mike Cox to issue an opinion on whether elected officials can use political donations to pay for legal expenses in a criminal case.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett was the first to seek clarity on the issue when she asked Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land earlier this year to rule whether Kilpatrick’s expenditures were proper.

After studying the issue, Land said state law is unclear and told Garrett to have the ex-mayor seek a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service.

Instead, Garrett said on July 10 that Land’s office did not provide clear guidance and declared in a news release that the “expenses are proper under the campaign finance law.”

If the expenditures were deemed improper, Kilpatrick could have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and taxes.

On Aug. 19, Jacobs turned to Cox.

No word yet from the AG.