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Disgraced Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Seeks A New Trial

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DETROIT - OCTOBER 28: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appears in Wayne County Circuit Court for his sentencing October 28, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. Kilpatrick will spend 4 months in jail as part of a plea deal he accepted back in September in which he plead guilty to two felonies and no contest to a felony assault charge. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DETROIT – OCTOBER 28: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick appears in Wayne County Circuit Court for his sentencing October 28, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. Kilpatrick will spend 4 months in jail as part of a plea deal he accepted back in September in which he plead guilty to two felonies and no contest to a felony assault charge. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Attorneys for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick filed a motion in the Sixth Circuit of Appeals seeking a new trial for the disgraced public official on several basis, including the notion that his attorney was not operating in a “conflict-free” manner.

That claim stems from the fact Kilpatrick attorney Jim Thomas previously represented Gasper Fiore, the owner of Boulevard and Trumbull towing, a man who testified against Kilpatrick in his trial for bribery and other acts of public malfeasance.

Kilpatrick was convicted, among many other things, of trying to extort money from Fiore and other members of the business community.

The appeal also says FBI agents were given too much latitude to act as experts in their trial testimony.

” … Kilpatrick asks for a new trial because the district court erred by allowing two case agents to repeatedly include inadmissible evidence in the guise of lay opinion testimony,” the appeal says.

“Defendants objected in a pre-trial motion in limine because the testimony would be without foundation of the witnesses’ personal knowledge. During trial, the agents together testified a total of 23 times to introduce text messages, recorded calls, or documents related to the various parts of the lengthy case.”

So, does this add up to a new trial for Kilpatrick? WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton doesn’t think so.

“He may  believe his lawyers had a conflict of interest, but that issue was decided long ago, before the trial started, and to be honest, he had an attorney who was extremely qualified to handle his case,” Langton said.

He added the trial judges have a lot of discretion about ordering a new attorney, if they believe a conflict has occurred. And the judge in this case didn’t do that.

Kilpatrick was ordered to spend 28 years behind bars on his convictions for racketeering, bribery, extortion and tax crimes.  Judge Nancy Edmunds said Kilpatrick spearheaded a scheme to steer contracts to pal Bobby Ferguson, which made projects more costly for a city that couldn’t afford it and drove contractors out of business.

At sentencing, the judge laid bare the accusations against Kilpatrick of fake jobs for family and friends, lavish parties, pay to play schemes, and secret affairs, saying he “has generally shown little remorse” for a bevy of infractions. She said it was sad he chose to “waste his talent on personal enrichment and aggrandizement,” when he had so many talents that could have helped the city.

Edmunds called it “devastating corruption” that bred a corrosive environment, cynicism and apathy among people who could have been convinced to boost Detroit. “We lost transparency, we lost accountability,” Edmunds said, adding her sentence was meant to show the public demands both.

“That way of doing government is over, it’s done,” she said.

For his part, Kilpatrick spoke eloquently in his own defense immediately before the sentence was handed down, giving a lengthy talk full of apologies and self-reflection in a subdued voice that riveted the packed courtroom and overflow room.

“I just humbly and respectfully ask for a fair sentence … I respect the jury’s verdict. I think your honor knows I have disagreed in terms of the specific things I was found guilty on, but I respect the verdict and I also respect the American justice system,” he said.

He added: “We’ve  been stuck in this town for a very long time over me, and I’m ready to let go so the city can move on. People here are suffering, they’re hurting and a great deal of that hurt I accept full responsibility for. I apologized to everyone who will listen, but it never seems to get heard.”

 

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