DETROIT - A defense lawyer in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial slipped on a rug outside Judge Nancy Edmunds's courtroom Monday and had to be taken to the hospital by EMS for an apparent nose injury.
Susan Van Dusen is a lawyer for defendant Bobby Ferguson, a childhood friend of Kilpatrick's. The fall happened during the morning break in the courtroom proceedings. This is the second of Ferguson's defense lawyers to be struck with a health issue. Gerald Evelyn took ill in court in late October, had to be rushed to hospital and court adjourned for two weeks to allow him time to recover.
Earlier in the day, Van Dusen continued her cross-examination of witness Kathleen McCann, a former executive with Soave Enterprises who is now CEO of auto transport company United Road Services Inc. McCann testified last Friday to a difficult "arranged marriage" relationship with contractor Ferguson after her company was forced by the former Detroit mayor to take his friend on as a sub-contractor in order to secure a contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).
The exchange between Van Dusen and McCann was testy to say the least. The defense lawyer pressed the witness to concede that Inland Waters, the Soave Enterprises company that was running the contract, was attempting to use Ferguson Enterprises Inc. as a "pass through" company. Van Dusen went on to explain that a pass through company is when one uses another to filter back revenue into its own pockets and that those sorts of companies are often viewed in the contracting industry as minority fronts. Van Dusen's strategy was to build a case that Ferguson held up negotiations on his end of the contract because he was worried about being used as a pass through.
Absolutely not true answered McCann. "I think those sort of comments are self-serving drama," said the witness about Ferguson.
When Van Dusen stressed that Ferguson just wanted to do the project on "his own two feet", McCann replied firmly "I think there were mixed messages around that, honestly."
McCann continued to resist Van Dusen's portrait of her client as a straightforward, proud man fighting in the contract negotiations his employees' rights.
"No," said McCann. "He was fighting for himself." Calling the situation with Ferguson very unusual, the witness claimed that he wanted money for doing no work. According to McCann, no other sub-contractor ever gave them the same pushback as Ferguson who demanded a certain percentage on contracts before work was actually done and stalled contract negotiations which resulted in work delays.
"He often said things that he never really intended," said McCann about Ferguson.
Judge Edmunds explained after the break that hopefully Van Dusen's health issue is not serious and she should be able to take up her cross-examination again in the morning. If not, the judge felt it was possible one of Ferguson's other defense lawyers could finish it for her.
Court will resume at 9AM Tuesday.
About the author
Alexandra Harland is a Princeton undergrad and has a masters degree in International affairs with Columbia. A Montreal native, she worked with the Daily Telegraph newspaper for a few years before transitioning to TV, when she worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings. Alexandra has also worked in newsrooms in both Detroit and Boston.
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