Kwame Kilpatrick asks for new lawyer for post trial motions

(WXYZ) - Kwame Kilpatrick was back in federal court today to plead for a new lawyer. He also spoke to the judge about the surgery he has to undergo on his injured leg.

Detroit's former mayor told Judge Nancy Edmunds that he can no longer work with Jim Thomas and she agreed to give him a new lawyer.

Kilpatrick, who once strolled into federal court wearing stylish custom suits, was driven there in the prisoner transport van.

Once inside, U. S. Marshals escorted Detroit's former mayor to the courtroom.

Despite the fact that Kilpatrick was handcuffed and wearing a khaki prison uniform, he looked truly happy to see his father, Bernard Kilpatrick, sitting in the gallery. Because father and son were co-defendants in the corruption trial – Bernard has not been allowed to visit his son at the federal prison in Milan.

Kilpatrick was convicted of racketeering, bribery, tax and mail fraud charges. The jury was hung on Bernard's charge of racketeering, but did convict him on a tax charge.

Judge Edmunds ordered Kilpatrick to appear in court Thursday morning because he filed this motion, representing himself – saying he deserves a new trial, in part because his long-time lawyer was not effective.

Kilpatrick told the judge that he wants a new attorney to handle the rest of the case and sentencing, even claiming that Jim Thomas's office stopped communicating with him except for messages sent through a prison email system that Kilpatrick says isn't private.

The judge said she thought Kilpatrick's legal representation during the 5-month corruption trial was "extremely effective" and reminded the ex-mayor that she originally appointed Thomas at Kilpatrick's request.

Thomas told the judge he has great affection for Kilpatrick and said that he had been communicating with his client, but agreed it was time to step away from the case. Outside court, he told us he was not upset about Kilpatrick's harsh words.

"In every case you are judged, not only in the result but by your effort.  And people have the right to an opinion, it may not well founded, but they have the right to an opinion so I couldn't be offended and I am not," Thomas told 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.

Thomas also says he did everything he could for his client.

"You saw the 7:00 in the morning till the 8 or 10:00 at night. Believe me, every effort was expended on his behalf that we were capable of doing. If it turns out that we've come short, then so be it. But that will be for somebody else to decide," said Thomas.

In the end, Judge Edmonds called on attorney Harold Gurewitz to take over the case. Gurewitz seemed stunned, and asked the judge to appoint another lawyer to help him get fully up to speed.

"I am just becoming acclimated to the case and learning about it, so I don' t have any comments at present, sorry," said Gurewitz outside of federal court.

Kilpatrick thanked the judge, and then asked her to issue an order so his father can visit him, which she agreed to do.

When asked if he was happy that he'll get to visit his son at the federal prison, Bernard Kilpatrick told us he was "very happy.

Harold Gurewitz is already a part of the corruption case, but he played a minor role. He's the lawyer the judge appointed to handle two of the witnesses who were called in the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest issue with Mr. Thomas's law firm.

And of course, this attorney change up will delay the rest of the post-conviction motions that have to be filed – as well as the sentencing.

Kilpatrick also thanked the judge for ordering the prison to get him an MRI. He says he has two torn quadriceps, a torn tendon, and they have to drill into his kneecap.  He said is surgery is coming up, and told the judge that he's terrified about having to recover from that in lock up.

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