Juror Dismissed From Detroit Corruption Trial
DETROIT (WWJ) – A juror has been dismissed from the public corruption trial against Kwame Kilpatrick for getting a little too much shut-eye.
WWJ’s Vickie Thomas reports that attorneys met in the judges chambers prior to resuming trial on Tuesday morning.
Just before 9:15 a.m. the judge announced that juror No. 4 was dismissed. The judge said the juror, a female, was having difficulties that made it hard to remain attentive.
“That juror had been falling asleep, she was kind of dozing off, she wasn’t taking notes. I have to say that most of the jurors, but for this one, have been paying attention to this case. But for whatever reason, this person was kind of out in her own little land,” said WWJ legal analyst and Talk Radio 1270 show host Charlie Langton.
“It’s still early on in the trial, it’s still going to be a four-month trial and we really haven’t gotten to the major witnesses in the case. But if this juror can’t sit through this, the beginning, there’s no way she’s going to make it in four months,” Langton continued.
The first alternate juror, identified only as a white male, will now take juror No. 4’s place. The jury now has eight women and four men.
Langton said replacing a juror isn’t that unusual and alternates are picked exactly for that reason.
“For this case though, the process to get these 12 jurors took so long, I would have thought that had anything happened we would have known about it before now, not during the trial. But it happened, which is why we have the alternative jurors so the trial will go on,” said Langton.
Kilpatrick is charged with fraud, bribery, tax crimes and a racketeering conspiracy. His father, Bernard Kilpatrick, Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson and the city’s former water boss Victor Mercado are also on trial in Detroit federal court.
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 four defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion. Kilpatrick was mayor until fall 2008 when he resigned in the unrelated text-messaging scandal.
The trial is expected to last four months, stretching into 2013.
The focus of day seven was grant money awarded to the city to help troubled residents, and whether that money was illegally used.
Kelly Bartlett, who worked for the state budget when Kilpatrick was mayor, said red flags went up when he discovered Carlita Kilpatrick received $137,000 in the form of two grants meant for local non-profits, one of them run by Kilpatrick’s longtime friend Bobby Ferguson, who is also charged in this case.
Bartlett drafted a letter to the attorney general asking whether it was illegal, and questioned whether some of that grant money wound end up Kwame Kilpatrick’s campaign coffers. But he testified he never sent the letter.