Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gets appeals hearing



    A federal appeals court has agreed to hear an appeal from former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, challenging his conviction on corruption charges, according to court documents filed earlier this week.

    Kilpatrick’s case will be heard before a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Kilpatrick, who is serving a 28-year prison term for public corruption, argued in court documents filed on Sept. 3 that he did not get a fair trial. Kilpatrick said he was forced to go to trial with a lawyer he didn’t want due to a conflict of interest.

    Kilpatrick’s longtime defense attorney, James Thomas, and his associate were working for a law firm that was suing Kilpatrick over the same alleged crimes of which Thomas was defending him, according to the filing.

    At Kilpatrick’s request, Thomas asked U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to withdraw from the case. But Edmunds denied the request.

    Thomas represented Kilpatrick throughout his six-month trial.

    Kilpatrick was convicted in March 2013 on 24 counts for crimes including racketeering, extortion and bribery.

    “The district court failed to carry out its duty to protect Kilpatrick’s Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel that is guaranteed to be ‘untrammeled and unimpaired by a court order requiring that one lawyer shall simultaneously represent conflicting interests,'” Kilpatrick’s lawyer, Harold Gurewitz, said in the filing.

    Kilpatrick also argued in the filing that the nearly $4.7 million he was ordered to pay in restitution was not authorized under federal law.

    Kilpatrick also stated that the judge erred in allowing two FBI agents to offer their opinions to jurors about what Kilpatrick’s and others’ text messages meant. Kilpatrick believes the agents shouldn’t have been allowed to state how texts and phone calls showed he was involved in crooked contracts.

    “Kilpatrick was denied a fair trial because the court allowed the two case agents to testify 23 times and ‘spoon-feed’ the jury the prosecution theory of the case based on the agents’ review of all the text messages, recorded calls and documents, (which) the jury never had the opportunity to review on their own and to use to draw their own conclusions,” Gurewitz said.

    Staff Writer Tresa Baldas contributed to this report.

    Contact Katrease Stafford: kstafford@freepress.com or 313-223-4759. Follow her on Twitter @KatreaseS_Freep.

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