On Trial: Inside the Kwame Kilpatrick Case

On Trial
At one time or another we are or someone we know will be a part of the judicial system. Because of this fact, we have created a new column called “On Trial,” which gives you a birds eye view of some of the most high profile and media-charged trials happening in the nation. We will observe the US Judicial system from the back row of the court room with objectivity and an eye for what’s relevant to the Vibe.com reader.

When Kwame Kilpatrick the former mayor of Detroit goes on trial for having a party at his mayoral mansion, it makes the news. And when a young lady that performed at this party comes up dead and two police officers blow the whistle on the cover up, it makes book publishers and TV networks fawn for rights to the drama. Now, after two short stays in prison and back and forth with repayment of a debt to Detroit that may never be repaid, Kilpatrick is again at the center of attention. This week, Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, ex-city water boss Victor Mercado and Kilpatrick Cass Tech high school friend Bobby Ferguson are being accused of a sweeping corruption enterprise scheme. The Kilpatricks are accused of shaking down contractors who wanted business or favors from Detroit city hall. Jury selections start for a trial that’s estimated to last till Xmas.

Here are the Facts

The US Government Attorney’s office is filing 30-plus counts of misconduct and corruption against the man crowned the Hip Hop Mayor. In what they call an environment of mafia-style business tactics, prosecutors are arguing that Kilpatrick led an enterprise that ran rampant shaking down companies and individuals that wanted to do business with Detroit.

The judge on this trial is Judge Nancy Edmunds.

Court Etiquette:

No one other than the judge and appointed lawyers say a word. The media has designated rows that are one row away from the table of lawyers and defendants.

It’s OK to lounge back in your chairs and slouch in your seats because the jury selection process can be long.

Take the sniffles outside. One of the security guards gave someone a tissue that had a persistent sniff, as to say, “be quiet.”

The Library has nothing on a federal courtroom. When the lawyers are preparing to ask questions of a potential juror or if that potential wants to think about their answers, dead silence. Yes the potential juror can talk but its quite intimidating; the silence.

What went down today that was powerful:

The judge will say and give her opinion at any time, it’s a pretty powerful position to be in and when she started the proceedings after the lunch break, talking about how the media is given a privilege to be in the court, in my head I’m like “Oh shit!” She then talks about how a specific reporter’s blog on Click on Detroit (Channel 4) gave personal information on a potential juror after she specific asked them not to do so. She went off, naming the woman by name and barring her from the trial. When we took a break her clerk gave a written copy of the transcript with the judge asking the media to refrain from giving details about potential jurors to the Channel 4 reporter.


Jury duty.

– Darralynn Huston ( @darralynnhutson )