10 a.m. --
An historic morning where the city of Detroit’s bankruptcy qualification trial is about to begin came with the expected response. As Judge Rhodes took the bench precisely at 9 a.m. to hear pre-trial motions, outside was a massive, lively and quite loud protest.
Related story: Bankruptcy or bust? Trial over Detroit's filing underway
Union members, retirees and activists protesting Detroit’s bankruptcy were so numerous they had the street blocked off and marched in a large oblong circle on West Lafayette Boulevard promising at the prompting of a woman with a bull horn “no justice, no peace” among other rallying cries.
There are loudspeakers playing rock music, television satellite trucks parked side by side and the last time I remember seeing security like this at the federal courthouse was for the underwear bomber trial.
The signs the protesters were carrying complained about the process throwing grandma under the bus and demanding the banks pay the tab not the retirees.
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees are the most obvious of the unions involved in the protest and it is their lawyers leading the charge in the courtroom against Detroit's Bankruptcy. The line to get into the federal courthouse was roughly a half hour long.
Security at the door, which is usually very tight anyway, was even more careful and was only allowing the public into the courthouse on the West Lafayette side of the building, the Fort street side of the building was closed to public traffic until 9:30 a.m.
Inside the courtroom, the first order of business before the trial gets started was a bit of a replay of yesterday’s court activity involving AFSCME activist Robert Davis.
Unions are asking Judge Rhodes to release emails between Gov. Rick Snyder’s office, Snyder assistant Richard Baird, and Kevyn Orr. It is their contention they can establish through this email traffic that the governor’s plan all along was to take Detroit into bankruptcy and therefore had no intention of negotiating settlements with the unions, thus making Detroit ineligible for bankruptcy.
The attorneys for Jones Day, who are representing the city of Detroit are arguing that their work product is privileged, meaning does not have to be disclosed, under the attorney client privilege rules of the court. The state’s attorneys also argued that some of the emails the unions have been asking for, while the governor’s office believes them to be privileged as well under the governor’s exemption under disclosure rules, have been given to the unions in the spirit of moving the case along.
Judge Rhodes has gone into recess and said he will have a ruling on this situation at 10 a.m.
Special section: Detroit bankruptcy
10:20 AM --
The court is back in session.
Judge Steven Rhodes was ready to rule on whether Jones Day law firm emails should be provided but a UAW attorney started the proceedings with a lengthy argument about why the Judge should rule in the union’s favor.
The judge made three different rulings and I will spell them out in a later post.
This just in: Gov. Rick Snyder’s lawyers had previously said they would try and keep Snyder off the stand. The governor has now apparently changed his mind and is now willing to testify in the Detroit bankruptcy qualification trial.
The Detroit Bankruptcy eligibility trial has just begun at 10:27 a.m. with opening arguments.
10:45 AM --
Jones Day Attorney Bruce Bennett has started his opening argument by saying, “I could stand here for hours talking about the city’s insolvency, but I won’t. Witnesses will offer a mountain of evidence that by every standard, sadly, the city is insolvent.”