The Neverending Story, The Prologue: Jury selection begins in the Kwame trial

Throughout the metro area, there’s a class of people living in despair, hoping, praying that they aren’t one of the select few sentenced to 18 weeks of hard time on the Kwame Kilpatrick jury.

Yes, finally, after years of drama, including a civil trial, hundreds of text messages, a never-to-be-satisfied restitution order, two prison stays, a book, and more charges than the San Fermin Festival, jury selection in Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial has begun in front of U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds. [In case you’ve forgotten what Kilpatrick is accused of this time around, the indictment can be found here.]

And with the beginning of the trial, we welcome back all of our old friends from past Kwame trials, such luminaries as Adoph Mongo, who offered this nugget of analysis to Robert Snell of The Detroit News:

“Race is 90 percent of this trial,” local political consultant Adolph Mongo said. “Race will overshadow anything and everything that comes out in the first week or two of this trial.”

Evidence, shmevidence. Who can argue with that?

Snell’s article focuses on the racial component of jury selection, which was an issue in the Bobby Ferguson case. Snell notes that the prosecutions of Sam Riddle and Bobby Ferguson,f or corruption and bid rigging, were derailed by a single juror, in both cases an African-American woman.

In the Freep, Tresa Baldas takes a different view, looking at the possibility of something that may or may not actually exist: the stealth juror, defined as a person who will lie to get on the jury because they have a bone to pick with either side, or just because they want to be famous. This makes complete sense. I mean, remember that juror from the O.J. Simpson trial, or the Casey Anthony trial? Yeah, me neither. Perhaps they should warn of the “stealth attorney” because they are the ones that tend to become famous from big trials. The lesson, Stealth Juror, is that book you’re thinking of writing? No one cares. Kwame himself wrote a book. It’s being used to balance uneven tables at bookstores across the state.

Baldas wrote that sniffing out hidden agendas can be tough:

The prospective jurors already have filled out questionnaires, and their answers have cleared the initial bias hurdle with both sides.

Experts note that uncovering any hidden biases is the tricky part, and jurors with hidden agendas could sneak their way onto the panel.

Hence the term “hidden agenda.”

The Freep also had a list of 10 felons/friends of Kilpatrick who are expected to testify against him.

I’ll tell you. I can’t wait … for it to be over.

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Kwame no more

So we’re not the only ones who don’t want to hear the name “Kwame Kilpatrick” anymore.

In the Bobby Ferguson bid-rigging trial, U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson has forbidden prosecutors from using, uh, that guy’s name in court.  [The Detroit News].

Lawson is concerned that saying his name three times will bring him – no, that’s not it.  Saying his name will alert him to your presence and he’ll come to capture – that’s not it either.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson was concerned the mere mention of Kilpatrick’s name would be prejudicial against Ferguson, the former mayor’s close friend. Instead, Kilpatrick was identified as a “city official” in front of the jury.

That’s not a bad idea, actually.

City attorney in Kwame texting case suspended 90 days

The decision is in and it’s not good (but could have been much, much worse) for former Detroit Law Department attorney Valerie Colbert-Osamuede: she’s been suspended 90 days by the Attorney Discipline Board. [Detroit Free Press]

Detroit city attorney Valerie Colbert-Osamuede was given a 90-day suspension by the state’s attorney discipline panel for lying to a judge in the text message scandal and then lying to the legal profession’s watchdogs investigating her case.

Robert Agacinski, head of the Attorney Grievance Commission that investigated her case and brought the charges, said the penalty was too lenient and that he wants his directors’ permission to appeal it.

“We had asked for disbarment,” Agacinski said. “We knew we probably weren’t going to get that, but we wanted something more substantial.”

Colbert-Osamuede lied to virtually anybody involved with looking into the Kwame Kilpatrick text messaging scandal, including the AGC itself. It’s somewhat surprising, considering the penalty in the Karen Plants case last month. Plants allegedly allowed perjured testimony in a drug case and kept the information from her court and her supervisors.

Ferguson broke, needs court-appointed lawyer for extortion case

The latest in the Rasputin of Detroit news stories…

The plights of Bobby Ferguson and Kwame Kilpatrick are so intertwined that it only made sense that this would happen [The Detroit News]:

Indicted contractor Bobby Ferguson’s construction company is broke and needs a taxpayer-funded lawyer, according to federal court records.

The company, headed by ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s close friend, is broke because the FBI seized so much money and equipment during a series of raids that it can’t afford to pay its current lawyer, who wants off a high-profile bid-rigging case set for trial next month.

You’ll recall that Kwame asked for a court-appointed attorney for his yet-to-be-tried fraud case. (To be fair, by the time these charges came around in 2010, Kwame had been hit with a sizeable restitution requirement for his actions in the Gary Brown case. To be honest, his attempts to show he’s poor as he lives in mansions is both laughable and insulting to the citizens whose tax money he used to try to hide his actions.) Now Ferguson is claiming the same, despite his company receiving $170 million in city contracts since 2002. He’s been charged with raking in $58.5 million through extortion and other illegal activity.

Tamara Green transcripts released

For those that can’t get enough of He Whose Name We Have Vowed Not To Mention In 2012 – okay, that’s probably not going to happen – Kwame Kilpatrick, the Detroit Free Press has obtained and released the unsealed transcripts from the Tamara Green lawsuit.

The Freep focused its early attention on a “testy back-and-forth” between the Green family’s attorney, Norman Yatooma, and Kilpatrick’s attorney, Jim Thomas:

After a testy back-and-forth, Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas summed it up with: “Point your finger at me again, and I’m going to break it off and shove it up your (expletive).”

Norman Yatooma, representing Greene’s family, responded: “Do that. Do that now, Mr. Thomas. Come here now, break off my finger and shove it up my (expletive).”

“Thank you for the invitation. Ask (Kilpatrick) a question,” Thomas said.

I’ve seen worse. I’m sure you have as well.

As had been reported before, not all of the deposition transcripts have been unsealed. U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Rosen opted to keep the testimony of former attorney general Mike Cox, Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, and former Kilpatrick Chief-of-Staff Christine Beatty sealed.

The rest, however, are out there, and paint a picture of the police department’s strange handling of the case.

Although many of the officers were disturbed by how the murder probe was handled, Rosen said there was no evidence that the case was derailed.

Sgt. Marian Stevenson, the homicide detective initially assigned to the investigation, testified that the case was taken away from her after six months and that she was transferred to the 9th Precinct — what she described as the punishment precinct. …

Former homicide Inspector William Rice, whom Greene’s family hired to review the homicide file in 2010, said in a confidential report that the murder probe was reassigned to different investigators so often and there was so much meddling from higher-ups, the investigation lacked continuity and an investigation strategy.

In all, much of the released testimony details strange procedural steps taken by the Detroit Police Department and Cox, who, one State Police investigator said, interviewed Kilpatrick without police and criticized the work of the police investigating the allegations against Kilpatrick.

Have a few hours to kill? You can read all of the released documents online at the Freep’s website.

USDC to unseal Tamara Green lawsuit docs

For local conspiracy theorists, Christmas is coming early this year, as U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Rosen said he’s unsealing some of the documents from the Tamara Green case. [Detroit Free Press].

The court will release the transcripts of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, two former police chiefs and other police executives.

Of course, “Christmas” won’t be as sweet as they might expect as several deposition transcripts will remain sealed, including those of former attorney general Mike Cox, who once famously declared the rumored Manoogian Mansion party that allegedly led to Green’s murder to be an urban legend. Others whose transcripts will remain sealed are former Kilpatrick chief-of-staff Christine Beatty, former city law department head Ruth Carter, Kilpatrick’s wife, Carlita, and two former Kilpatrick bodyguards.

Greene lawsuit against Detroit tossed out by federal judge

The Detroit Free Press reports that a $150 million lawsuit filed by the family of Tamara Greene was dismissed Nov. 1 by U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen.

Greene’s family sued the city of Detroit and former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2005, saying officials sabotaged the 27-year-old’s murder investigation to prevent her killers from being found.

Greene, who danced under the name Strawberry, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Detroit in April 2003. This happened some eight months after rumors spread that she danced at a never-proven wild party at the mayoral Manoogian mansion in 2002, and supposedly had been assaulted by Carlita Kilpatrick, the wife of the then-mayor.

The Free Press said that there was no immediate comment from attorney Norman Yatooma, who represents Greene’s family, or from attorney James Thomas, who represents Kilpatrick. Yatooma is expected to appeal the ruling.