Kwame Kilpatrick trial jury questioning heats up on day 3

Defense team at odds with judge's decision on prospective jury members for high-profile federal trial in Detroit

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®

DETROIT - The defense team stormed out of federal court Monday afternoon not happy with a lost battle it fought with Judge Nancy Edmunds.

Edmunds had green-lighted a juror no one on the defense side wants. Kwame Kilpatrick's attorney, Jim Thomas, and Bobby Ferguson's attorney, Michael Rataj, were not interested in discussing it with reporters outside court.

The defense tried heartily to prevent a retired Air Force sergeant who clearly wants to be on the jury, admitting he is a "news junkie" who reads the paper and watches TV news. He had followed Kilpatrick's previous trial and openly admitted he found the former Detroit mayor's affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, "offensive" and he believes Kilpatrick was "a crook and a liar" in that case.

Kilpatrick on Trial: Day 3 of jury selection

But the former military man said he could be fair when hearing this case.

Rataj attacked the hardest of all, asking "do you want to sit on the jury to finish the job the first jury didn't?" That case ended in a mistrial just a few weeks ago.

The prospective juror said "that's an unfair characterization."

"The judge's logic to this is that even though he has a bias and prejudice against Kwame, it was for a previous case and not this particular case. And he said he could be fair on this particular case. That's really hard to overcome ... from a practical, realistic standpoint," said Local 4 legal expert Todd Flood.

Three jurors had been let go on Monday as a result of hardships. There is one black woman who says she will lose her medical benefits if she serves.

The judge wants to speak with the woman's employer about finding a way to let her serve.

Amid all this, there was a lighthearted moment Monday morning. A woman admitted to the jury pool that she was gambling at one of Detroit's casinos where she overheard a couple of young men say they thought Bobby Ferguson was a rock star.

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