Judge rules Warren Mayor Jim Fouts must testify under oath about racial issues

Fouts ordered to testify in civil rights lawsuit

WARREN, Mich. - Warren Mayor Jim Fouts will have to testify under oath after a federal judge ordered his deposition be taken in a civil lawsuit in which the city's only African-American police officer claims he created a hostile work environment.

Fouts' attorneys fought hard to prevent him from being forced to testify, but they lost the battle.

Judge Terrence Berg ordered Fouts to sit down for a lengthy deposition, answering questions about diversity or a lack thereof in Macomb County's largest city.

The main focus of the case is racial concerns in the city of Warren. Attorney Leonard Mungo will ask the questions, but he had no comment Tuesday.

In April, Mungo said the mayor's testimony is crucial.

"The deposition will consist of any and all areas of inquiry that will call on the mayor to answer why he did not pursue diversity training without the ranks of city government," Mungo said.

The deposition is part of a lawsuit brought by DeShiela Howlett. For years, Howlett was the only African-American police officer in Warren, and she claims a culture of racial insensitivity put her in danger.

Howlett insists officers were slow to back her up on police runs. Fouts has come under fire in the past, including after his diversity director testified that he was told to put diversity on the back burner until after the next election.

Fouts was also involved in an audio tape controversy in which he was apparently caught on tape saying disparaging things about African-Americans.

Fouts insisted the tapes are fakes edited by his enemies, and now he'll be asked about them under oath.

When the idea of Fouts testifying came up, his attorney said it was improper, calling it nothing more than a political attack.

"What Leonard Mungo is trying to do is harass and embarrass Mayor Fouts when he runs for reelection," his attorney said. "I think that's what this is all about. He had nothing to do with the DeShiela Howlett case, and we don't think he should be deposed."

Now it's a reality, as Fouts will be sworn in under the threat of perjury if he fails to tell the truth.

Fouts' deposition will last four hours, and the judge has ordered the city treasurer and city clerk to be deposed. The sides were told to come up with an agreed upon date before Aug. 20.

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