Collette tosses Detroit’s consent agreement lawsuit

After two days of fervor over Detroit City Attorney Krystal Crittendon’s rogue lawsuit to halt the city’s consent agreement with the state, Ingham County Judge William Collette put an end to the controversy by dismissing the claim.

According to Freep.com, Miller Canfield attorney Michael Hodge told Collette that Detroit might not have been able to meet its payroll as early as Friday if the lawsuit continued.

Collette openly challenged the Detroit Law Department attorney James Noseda on why the department didn’t speak up earlier. [The Detroit News.]

“Your office had plenty of opportunity to intervene and take some action before the agreement was ever signed,” Collette said.

Noseda said Crittendon did not have an opportunity to weigh in on the consent agreement and whether it was legal.

“The law department was shut out of this entirely,” Noseda retorted. “It was done between the mayor’s office and the Miller-Canfield attorneys.”

As an attorney, if you were to raise hell by filing a last second lawsuit, claiming you had the authority to do so, wouldn’t you be the one who showed up to defend it? Yes? Then you aren’t Krystal Crittendon.

Advertisements

Name that …. patent office?

Buried on page 140 of the 152-page America Invents Act is the revival of the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to be located in Detroit.

As a sign of the federal government’s commitment to finally breaking ground on it, the AIA even gave it a name — the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office.

We reported in January that the USPTO was to start hiring examiners in August of this year to start  to work in the office, which was supposed to open sometime this year. But by April, plans for the Detroit location were put on hold indefinitely.

In September, the plan was back on, with the enactment of the AIA.

There’s no word yet on where the office will be, it’s expected to be open in the spring of next year. And with more than 100 workers needed to staff it, it’s the one facet of the AIA that’s certain to produce jobs.

Scents & Sensibility

You’ve probably heard this one by now [The Detroit News]:

City employees with a strong aroma of perfume, cologne or any scented products will soon be in for a warning.

Detroit officials have plans to place placards in three city buildings detailing scented products to avoid due to a settlement in a widely publicized federal lawsuit filed by a city planner in 2008 and settled last month.

The placards will be placed in the Cadillac Square Building, Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and First National Building. They ask employees to refrain from "wearing scented products, including … colognes, aftershave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body/face lotions … (and) the use of scented candles, perfume samples from magazines, spray or solid air fresheners …"

The changes stem from a lawsuit filed by a city employee who alleged she had a “breathing sensitivity” to “chemical products.” The city of Detroit settled her Americans With Disabilities Act case for $100,000.

Look, we all work with Johnny Aftershave, whose olfactory senses were apparently destroyed in a teenage glue-sniffing incident (or something).  There’s a guy in our building who smells like he drinks Axe Body Spray.* But asking employees to “refrain” from using deodorant in CAYMC, perhaps the most environmentally unpredictable courthouse I’ve ever visited seems like a dangerous alternative.

Unless of course, this one person is not sensitive to B.O. (like the rest of us are).

* Fear not, Leaders In The Law! This person is not a Michigan Lawyers Weekly employee!

This Week In Detroit Corruption

[This was originally going to be a Kwame Kilpatrick post. That was yesterday morning. Then the news just kept on rolling in…]

It’s sad that we’ve hit a point of oversaturation with Kwame Kilpatrick that we don’t post that much of what goes on with him anymore unless it’s particularly noteworthy, like his attorney plays the Patrick Ewing “We make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money” defense.

But this week, Detroit’s reputation is taking a worse beating than Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull. Not only did Kwame swoop back into town in the face of a new arrest warrant, but Monica Conyers and Sam Riddle are back in the news for their roles1 in the Synagro bribery scandal. Plus we have news of a federal investigation into Kilpatrick family kickbacks and the fallout from the Detroit Law Department’s complete and utter lack of professional ethics.2

1 Alleged! 2 Truth!

Kwame Kilpatrick just won’t go away. He’d like to, certainly, but on his own terms. Those terms undoubtedly include not going to jail, and probably not reimbursing the city either.

His endless attempts to stay out of jail for violating his parole by not paying restitution as ordered looked to be coming to an end. After the Court of Appeals denied his attempt to overturn Judge David Groner’s order to pay $70k by February 26, Kilpatrick filed a motion to have Groner removed for being biased against him. [Mlive]

“There’s nobody else in Michigan who’s been scrutinized like this ever in the history of this court,” he said.  “And I accept that, but I also want some fairness and somebody to be non-biased.”

This morning, Wayne County Circuit Court presiding criminal judge Timothy M. Kenny denied Kilpatrick’s motion. Rather than deal with Kilpatrick once and for all, Groner has scheduled his probation hearing for March 24, giving us two more weeks of this crap. [The Detroit News].

Monica Conyers is an absolutely nuts. After years of megalomaniacal displays, she managed to stay out of the spotlight for six months after pleading guilty to accepting cash for a vote in the city-wide Synagro scandal.

Then Wednesday, like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, she returned… and brought hell with her. [The Detroit News]:

An angry Conyers, who surprised U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn by announcing she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea on bribery charges, unleashed a loud courtroom tirade against federal prosecutors and the news media.

“I’m just not going to jail for something I didn’t do,” said the former Detroit city councilwoman. Conyers left the courtroom saying: “I’m appealing this case” because Cohn had “no right to do that.”

She apparently thought she’d get a lighter sentence.

It was disclosed for the first time that Conyers has attempted to cooperate with government prosecutors. According to Cohn, prosecutors said they are still checking out information she gave them but so far do not feel it is valuable enough to warrant a reduced sentence.

Cohn’s courtroom was packed, with dozens of people, including FBI agents who investigated the case, unable to get a seat to watch the sentencing.

“It was one of the most bizarre courtroom experiences of my career,” said Conyers’ attorney, Steve Fishman, who is in his 37th year of practice. He told Cohn after the hearing he needs to withdraw from the case as he could be called as a witness in any appeal.

“No judge in my memory has allowed cooperation (with prosecutors) to go unrewarded,” Fishman said. “That’s essentially what he did.”

Though Fishman did not argue that Conyers should be allowed to withdraw her plea, he told Cohn she deserved a much lower sentence. Cohn, he said, should resist media drum-beating for a harsh sentence.

They’ve made Monica Conyers the human pinata for all that is wrong with Detroit,” he said.

I’d bet Kwame probably disagrees with that statement. But even if it’s true, I’d say that Conyers has done a pretty good job of that all by herself.

Conyers also wanted Cohn and everyone else to think about the children:

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

Also,Cohn disclosed today that his sentence was lighter than he had planned for it to be.

Monica’s old partner-in-alleged-crime Sam Riddle is back in the news, finally picking a new attorney who will take his case (and announcing it on Twitter): former DOJ attorney Richard Convertino. Now he needs to find another juror who believes he didn’t do it. [Detroit Free Press].

The Kilpatrick family’s troubles extend beyond Kwame, of course. A grand jury is looking into accusations that Karl Kado paid Kwame, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, and his chief administrative officer Derrick A. Miller. The Detroit News has a transcript. The FBI is preparing federal charges, possibly racketeering, against Kwame.

Whether this is related to previous matter is yet to be revealed, but Kwame’s mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and her aide, Andrea Bragg, have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Detroit.  Bragg said she’s coming but Carolyn? She’s going to talk to her attorney to see how she’ll respond. But with her son and husband involved in that investigation… [UPDATE: Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said that she and Bragg will cooperate with the grand jury. She also said that she is “not a target.”]

The worst part is that I could go on. The Freep has a comprehensive list of the other scandals with which the city is still dealing.

The Joker (circa 1989) summed it up best:

This town needs an enema.”

Conyers gets 37 months

Former Detroit Councilwoman Monica Conyers has been sentenced to more than three years in jail, and as might be expected, she didn’t go out without at least an attemot at a fight.

The Detroit Free Press was the first with the sordid details of the affair:

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers was just sentenced to 37 months with two years supervised probation and no fine.

The 37 months is the top of the sentencing guidelines recommended by the probation department.

Before the sentencing was announced, a strange series of events transpired, highlighted by Conyers’ request to withdraw her guilty plea. She was screaming that she had her own tapes that would exonerate her before the sentence was announced. She also yelled “What about my children? They did nothing to cause this!” before the sentence announced.

“I would like to withdraw my plea…I shouldn’t go to jail for something I didn’t do,” she said.

She told Judge Avern Cohn that he should read the report from a doctor, where she was sent by the court, and how susceptible she was to badgering. She repeated that this was a doctor
that she saw at the direction of the court.

She then repeated: “I’m just not going to jail for something I did not do.”

Cohn said he was satisfied that the guilty pleawas voluntary and knowingly given.

Earlier, her attorney Steven Fishman had clashed with the judge over sentencing guidelines.

Conyers also said that she knew that there was pressure on Cohn to make an example of her and Fishman said the media has “banged on Ms. Conyers like a pinata.”

He also said the media was gathered in the courtroom “like Madame LaFarge (the lady from Tale of Two Cities, who knitted while the heads rolled) around the guillotine.
Fishman said there is corruption and ongoing investigations, “but she should not be a poster child for all that.”

Conyers said there are things on the wiretaps that will exonerate her.

Goodbye and good riddance Monica, and say hi to Kwame when he more than likely joins you in the near future.

Feds want serious jail time for Monica Conyers

DETROIT (AP) — Federal prosecutors are calling for a prison sentence of about four years or more for Monica Conyers, who admitted taking bribes to support a sludge contract when she was on the Detroit City Council.

The government believes a judge should consider more than Conyers’ corrupt deal to support Synagro Technologies, a Houston company. Prosecutors said she should be punished for a series of alleged schemes to shake down people with city business.

The evidence, including hours of secretly taped phone calls, was aired at the recent trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, before his case ended in a mistrial.

"The pattern of abuse of office and self-enrichment highlighted during that trial confirms that Synagro was not an isolated or anomalous incident," assistant U.S. attorneys Mark Chutkow and R. Michael Bullotta wrote.

They said Riddle and Conyers received $69,500, a figure that would place her sentencing guidelines at 46 months to 57 months in prison. A sentence near the top of that range would be just under the five-year maximum punishment for conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, however, will have flexibility Wednesday because the guidelines are not mandatory. Defense lawyer Steve Fishman declined to comment on the government’s sentencing memo, which was unsealed Monday.

Conyers, the wife of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., pleaded guilty to conspiracy last summer and quit the council.

"The citizens of Detroit elected Ms. Conyers to an important public office, conferring on her the authority to make decisions impacting the health, safety and welfare of the community," Chutkow and Bullotta said. "They expected her to exercise that power solely for their benefit, without consideration of personal gain."

Kilpatrick dodges hearing – for now

  Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has gotten a repreive from the Michigan Court Of Appeals, which halted his Friday probation violation hearing, reported The Detroit Free Press:

The ruling also put on hold, at least temporarily, an arrest warrant signed [Thursday] by Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner for Kilpatrick after he failed to make a $79,011 court-ordered restitution payment stemming from his criminal case along with additional allegations that he failed to give a “complete and accurate accounting” of his wife’s finances.

 The warrant also alleges that Kilpatrick failed to surrender all his tax refunds and did not account for all his gifts and benefits, including the $240,000 lent to him by various business leaders, including Peter Karmanos, Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and Jim Nicholson.

 Nonetheless, the appellate judges had words for Daniel Hajji, one of Kilpatrick’s attorneys, after Hajji argued this week in court filings that his client

 In the motion to stop the proceedings, Hajji wrote Tuesday that the former Detroit mayor has to maintain an upper-crust lifestyle in Texas because he is trying to sell computer systems to “the privileged and the affluent.”

 Appellate Judge Karen Fort Hood wrote that Hajji’s filing is “unconscionable and does not merit serious consideration.”

 The warrant was requested by the state Department of Corrections and Kilpatrick’s probation officer.

 Additionally, the warrant says Kilpatrick did not turn over his state and city pension, as required by his 2008 plea agreement.

  There was no time frame given for a resolution, but you can bet this case his the highest priority and will be adressed immediately, if not sooner.