DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit’s former mayor claims he tried to fight the man defending him of multiple corruption crimes, and that the defense lawyer threatened to have him locked up during court proceedings.
“This is all an attempt to get a new trial,” said WWJ’s Legal Analyst Charlie Langton.
Kwame Kilpatrick is hoping to have his 28-year prison sentence overturned. In his latest appeal attempt, the ex-mayor alleges that he had a conflict of interest with his attorney, that his attorney did not provide a valid defense, and that the judge made a mistake in keeping the attorney on the case.
In a 38-page filing in U.S. District Court, obtained by the Detroit Free Press, Kilpatrick claims he had a heated argument with his lawyer, Jim Thomas, in Aug. 2012, that almost turned physical.
“I’m not sure that there is any video of this,” said Langton. “And it’s my understanding that this was an argument during the jury selection, but that’s all we have.”
The argument was allegedly about whether Thomas should withdraw from the case over a conflict of interest: Thomas and a colleague were working for a law firm that was suing Kilpatrick over the same alleged crimes that Thomas was tasked with defending, according to the report.
At some point during the argument, Kilpatrick moved to get physical with Thomas but the lawyer ran around the conference table and threatened to call police, according to the filing. The ex-mayor also claims that Thomas threatened to have him locked up for the duration of the trial.
Thomas told the newspaper that the incident never took place.
A judge eventually ruled there was no conflict of interest and denied Kilpatrick’s request to have Thomas removed from the case.
Still, Kilpatrick says that his lawyer hurt his case and prevented him from a fair trial. And for that reason he wants his conviction overturned.
“Let’s assume it happened,” said Langton. “You chased him or he chased you around the conference table, your lawyer threatened to call the cops and have you detained during the duration of your trial. I would think that if those facts would have come out in front of the judge then and not now — more than five years after the incident — there may have been a different result. But that was then, these things are now. I don’t think he’s got a real good chance with this one, but they will probably give him a hearing.”
Kilpatrick, who remains in an Oklahoma prison, is currently set for release in August 2037. All of his appeals thus far have been denied.