DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A federal judge has rejected ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s request that his corruption trial be moved because of the extensive publicity about the case.
Detroit U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds on Thursday turned down defense lawyer James Thomas’s motion for a change of venue for the trial.
Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, city contractor Bobby Ferguson, and former Detroit water boss Victor Mercado are accused of rigging contracts, shaking down businessmen and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Thomas’s filing says media coverage of the case has gone “radioactive” and makes it impossible for Kilpatrick and his co-defendants to get a fair trial.
Prosecutors opposed the request, and Edmunds says the jurors chosen for the case are able to act fairly.
Despite the heavy news coverage, WWJ Legal Analyst and Talk Radio 1270 host Charlie Langton said Judge Edmunds ruled that the juror’s views were not distorted by the media.
“The judge noted that although Kwame Kilpatrick may be very popular, the other defendants are virtually unknown,” Langton said. “And there was really no way to stop the media from covering this case, even if the case had been moved to another city.”
Judge Edmunds said that it has been 50 years since a case had been moved out of a court on similar arguments.
The government claims Kwame Kilpatrick enriched himself for years through bribery and extortion involving contractors that did business with Detroit. He resigned as mayor in 2008 and served time for a parole violation in the unrelated text-messaging case.
A jury was seated on Wednesday. Opening statements are set for Friday.
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