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Judge Throws Out Suit By Detroit Lawyer Challenging Consent Deal

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(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

LANSING (WWJ/AP) – An Ingham County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing claimed would bankrupt the city by the weekend.

Judge William Collette on Wednesday threw out the suit brought by Detroit’s corporation counsel that challenged the city’s financial stability agreement with the state.

Collette said that Detroit’s top attorney, Krystal Crittendon, lacked the authority to sue the state, adding that the lawsuit would have to have been brought by the mayor or city council to be valid.

In bringing the suit, Crittendon, said the city charter prohibits Detroit from making contracts where at least one side owes the other money. She said Michigan owes Detroit $220 million in revenue sharing.

Crittendon did not attend Wednesday’s hearing on the matter, sending an assistant instead.

Mayor Dave Bing had called on Crittendon to drop the lawsuit, saying it was putting Detroit’s finances in jeopardy. He warned the city would go broke by Friday after state leaders threatened to withhold $80 million in revenue sharing if the suit was not dropped.

Following the hearing Wednesday, Bing tweeted that Detroit is in the clear, at least for now. “We’ve been talking to the state today about releasing the city’s escrow funds and proceeding with bond refinancing. The city will not run out of cash Friday and will make its $34.2M bond debt payment by Friday,” he said.

In a news conference, the mayor said the dismissal allows his administration to refocus on “important issues” facing the city.

“I was not happy with it (the lawsuit), number one … nor did I agree with it,” Bing said. “So, I’ve taken the action from a legal perspective and now we’ve prevailed and we can move on.”

Bing called the suit “an unfortunate distraction,” but stressed that he doesn’t blame Crittendon.

“This is really not about Krystal. It really isn’t. She did what she thought was right, what she had to do, and I’ve never made it personal from her vantage point,” Bing said.

WWJ Legal Analyst and Talk Radio 1270 host Charlie Langton said this situation points to issues within the city’s legal structure.

“There is a real problem with the city attorney. Attorneys represent people! They’re not their own entity,” said Langton. “But in this charter, the city attorney works for the mayor, the city council and herself — and that is very weird Lawyers don’t usually do that. That’s a problem, but that problem is within the charter.”

Before the consent agreement was reached, Detroit was on course to be more than $400 million in debt.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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