JUDGE: No new trial for Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick or Bobby Ferguson
9:08 AM, Aug 8, 2013
10:54 PM, Aug 8, 2013
DETROIT (WXYZ) - The members of the Kilpatrick Enterprise won't be getting a new trial any time soon.
On Thursday, a federal judge denied the former mayor's attempts to have his case heard again.
These types of requests for a new trial are very rarely granted – especially after a jury verdict. Kwame Kilpatrick and Bobby Ferguson were both in court Thursday. They are both much thinner and their beards are much longer because they have been locked up for nearly 5 months now.
When the judge made her decision this morning, Kilpatrick turned around to his friends and family members in the courtroom, patted his heart, and then gestured to them that they should keep their chins up.
"I love you and I'm always going to fight for him, always – no matter what anybody says. To my dying day," said Marvel Cheeks. That was the message to Kwame Kilpatrick from his uncle outside federal court Thursday.
Cheeks is upset that Judge Nancy Edmunds won't be giving Kilpatrick and his co-defendants a new trial – and she won't be setting aside their guilty verdicts either.
"Her mind was made up before she walked in, as a matter of fact, her mind was made up 2 seconds before she read the briefs," said Cheeks.
Judge Edmunds did make her ruling after the defense teams and federal prosecutors gave their oral arguments today. But the Judge has had more than 3 months to closely analyze a series of written motions from both sides – and legal experts say new trials are very rarely granted at this stage in a case.
"No one questions the fact that the jury worked hard in this case, so trial judges are going to give a lot of deference to what they decided," said Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer, John Shea.
In March, a jury convicted Kilpatrick and his friend, former city contractor, Bobby Ferguson of racketeering, bribery, and other charges. They found the ex-mayor's father guilty of a filing a false tax return.
Kilpatrick's new court-appointed lawyer, Harold Gurewitz, told the judge that Kilpatrick deserved a new trial because his former lawyer, Jim Thomas, had a serious conflict of interest in the case.
Thomas once represented a potential witness in the corruption trial – and his law firm was involved in a civil suit against Kilpatrick.
Federal prosecutors argued that Judge Edmunds put protections in place before the trial started to address the conflicts – and the Judge agreed with them today.
Ferguson's lead attorney Gerald Evelyn is disappointed with the ruling as well.
"That's her call. Her decision will have to be appealed. Along with everything else," said Evelyn.
Ferguson's team argued that he should get a new trial in part because the government's case relied so much on testimony from federal agents – rather than other witnesses like city contractors.
They also say the judge allowed the jury to listen to too much hearsay – meaning many witnesses testified about what other people who were not called in to court had said to them about the Kilpatrick Enterprise.
"It's a big issue – when you can't question somebody who's not there, it's always a problem. And the volume of testimony in this case where that occurred was huge. So it's a huge problem," said Evelyn.
The defense teams will be appealing this decision after everyone is sentenced next month. They are looking at decades behind bars.
The judge could order them to pay restitution when she sentences the defendants. The question is how much, and where will the money come from, but for at least Kwame Kilpatrick's case – his federal restitution will have nothing to do with the $850,000 he still owes the city from his state court conviction.