(WXYX) - The federal corruption case against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is a month away, but the courtroom will be busy this week.
Monday the judge will make key decisions that will impact what is expected to be an historic case.
Federal prosecutors and the attorneys defending Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick and two other defendants, Bobby Ferguson and Victor Mercado, will all be in federal court tomorrow morning.
They will all be trying to convince federal Judge Nancy Edmunds to see things their way.
Victor Mercado, who was the Director of the Water and Sewerage Department during most of Kilpatick’s rein as mayor, wants nothing to do with his co-defendants and has asked for a separate trial.
His attorney will argue that Mercado is a victim who had nothing to do with the schemes that allegedly reaped Kilpatrick and others about $1.2 million. In a court filing, it says Mercado did not profit a penny from the alleged city contract bid rigging scheme and racketeering he and his co-defendants are charged with.
Defense attorneys will also try will to convince the judge to change her mind about having an anonymous jury.
An anonymous jury means no one will know a juror by name, but each will be assigned a number.
“I think in this case an anonymous jury is probably a good idea and the judge has made the right decision,” says attorney Anthony chambers who represented Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, also known as the “underwear bomber,” who tried to take down a commercial airliner heading to Detroit. He will also be a legal expert on jury selection for 7 Action News during this case.
He says it is important to have anonymous jury because it takes the pressure off them.
“Even if you look at the Ferguson case, the bid-rigging case that just concluded, immediately after the jurors were approached by the media,” Chambers points out. “Making it anonymous takes away the pressure from the jurors so that they are not concerned with being identified publicly unless they choose to do so.”
As for how important jury selection is to this case—a process that will begin on Wednesday with 300 potential jurors answering questionnaires—Chambers says it’s “huge.”
“This is probably one of the largest parts of this trial, if not the biggest part of it because the jurors are going to be the ones to decide guilt or innocence,” says Chambers.
And in a town where race is a major source of contention, how important will race be to picking a jury?
“I think having all members of the community on this jury is important,” says Chambers. "Certainly having African Americans on this jury, where you have defendants who are African American who are in positions politically, being judged, you certainly want a process that appears to be fair.”
Another major battle is over the method the federal court uses to put together a jury pool and whether or not African Americans are underrepresented.
7 Action News will be at tomorrow’s hearing and will have all the details.
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