Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick claims lawyer's relationship with judge affected his trial
Kilpatrick alleges relationship had negative affect on chances of fair trial
DETROIT – Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is claiming his lawyer had a personal relationship with the judge in his case and it had a negative impact on his chances of a fair trial.
Much of what's inside Kilpatrick's 14-page filing has been seen before, but the allegation about the relationship between his lawyer and the judge is new.
Kilpatrick was denied a new trial by the court of appeals, but he will not be deterred. He was told by the Supreme Court that his case will not be considered, and the sentencing judge in Detroit said she won't reduce her 28-year sentence for racketeering, extortion and fraud.
Kilpatrick's new motion is to disqualify Judge Nancy Edmunds based on what he calls a "conflict of interest" between her and his attorney, James Thomas.
"When James Thomas walked into Judge Edmunds' chambers, the judge was already seated at the head of the large conference table," Kilpatrick said in the motion. "He stopped, leaned over to the judge and said, 'Thank you for the lovely card for my wedding, judge. My wife and I truly loved it.'"
Kilpatrick reiterated his previous concern that his attorney represented one of the witnesses against him at his trial. The court of appeals didn't deem that worthy of a new trial.
"Edmunds refused to investigate or inquire into whether the conflict of interests could deter trial counsel from intense probing of the witness on cross-examination," Kilpatrick said in the motion. "The court's insistence upon expeditiousness provoked it to make biased, partial and personally motivated decisions during Movant's trial that worked to infect, contaminate and completely destroy Movant's right to a fair trial and his access to justice."
Kilpatrick is asking Edmonds to reconsider his previous request to reduce his sentence, in addition to asking her to take herself off the case.
As it stands, Kilpatrick is scheduled to be released from federal prison Aug. 1, 2037.
Legal experts who reviewed the motion called the effort a long shot at best. They said it's most likely the final legal challenge available to Kilpatrick.
Experts said Kilpatrick could wait until Edmunds retires and ask the new judge assigned to the case for a review.
Federal judges have lifetime appointments, aren't elected and have no manditory retirement age.
Since this is a federal case, there is also a possibility of a presidential pardon. Kilpatrick has requested a pardon from President Donald Trump, but there has been no public action taken on that request.
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