Judge Holds Special Hearing Ahead Of Kilpatrick Trial

DETROIT (WWJ) – The judge overseeing Kwame Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial is holding a special hearing Tuesday morning before resuming the jury selection process.

WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas said the exact nature of the 8:30 a.m. hearing is unknown, however it’s believed to be about media coverage of the trial thus far.

Meantime, defense attorneys for Kilpatrick say they’re growing more encouraged by the makeup of the jury pool.

So far, 55 potential jurors have been chosen, including more than a dozen African Americans and several minorities. Judge Nancy Edmunds wants a total of 66 jurors in the pool, from which 12 jurors and six alternates will be selected to hear the case.

Fox2 Investigative Reporter M.L. Elrick, who broke the text messaging scandal that began Kilpatrick’s downward spiral, said it’s no surprise the racial makeup of the jury pool has been heavily discussed.

“The reason why we all care about race in the jury is that we would like to see a decision that everybody can say from whatever perspective, this was a fair and equitable outcome. And if it is an all white jury, whether it’s fair or not, it’s going to be debated for years to come and we’re never going to be able to put this behind us. So I think everybody has a stake in seeing a jury that looks like the people we see outside the courthouse, and that’s just in the best interest of both parties,” said Elrick.

Jury selection is expected to wrap up Tuesday.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, former city water boss Victor Mercado and Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson are accused of a sweeping corruption scheme.

The Kilpatricks are accused of shaking down contractors who wanted business or favors from Detroit city hall. The government calls it the “Kilpatrick enterprise.”

All have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion. Kilpatrick was mayor until fall 2008 when he resigned in an unrelated scandal.

Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for continuing coverage.

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