Huffpost Politics

Detroit Mayor Allowed By Judge To Go To Dem Convention

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DETROIT — Barack Obama doesn't want Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his legal troubles to be a distraction at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and he got his wish Thursday when a judge ordered the city executive to stay home.

A Michigan spokesman for Obama, Brent Colburn, said in an e-mail Thursday that the focus of the convention in Denver this month should be on Obama and not on what Colburn called "the troubles of one individual," a reference to Kilpatrick and the two criminal cases he's facing.

Kilpatrick, who would have gone to the convention as a superdelegate, faces eight felony charges in a perjury case and two felony charges in an assault case.

The day began when a judge overseeing Kilpatrick's arraignment on perjury and other charges said the mayor could get rid of the tether around his ankle and attend the convention.

By afternoon, however, another judge handling the assault charges signed an order emphasizing that the tether remains a condition of release in that case. It was back on the mayor's ankle nearly four hours after it was removed.

"The lawyers for the mayor said they were willing to comply," said Rusty Hills, spokesman for the Michigan attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the assault case.

Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, were charged in March with conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office, mostly tied to their testimony in a civil trial. Sexually explicit text messages between the pair, published by the Detroit Free Press in January, contradict their sworn denials of an affair, a key point in the trial last year involving a former deputy police chief.

Separately, Kilpatrick is accused of assaulting two investigators who were at his sister's house trying to serve a subpoena in the perjury case. District Court Judge Ronald Giles, who ordered Kilpatrick to retain the tether, was to hold a hearing Friday to determine if there is probable cause for trial on the latest charges.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Leonard Townsend, who is overseeing the perjury case, turned a routine arraignment Thursday into a dramatic scene when he suddenly declared that Kilpatrick could get rid of the device that tracks his moves and go to Denver. The mayor had been barred from traveling outside the Detroit metro area.

"I see absolutely no reason for that and it's silly," said Townsend, drawing an immediate protest from the prosecutor, who promised an appeal.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey reminded the judge that Kilpatrick's travel was restricted because he earlier had violated the conditions of his release.

"I think you're losing your composure," Townsend said.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals. It was not known when the appeals court would act.

By afternoon it was clear that the ban on out-of-state travel remains as part of the assault case.

"If someone wants to discuss changes to that, they're going to have to bring that up with us," Hills said.

Kilpatrick's lawyer, James Thomas, said high-ranking Democrats want the mayor to attend the convention. Obama spokesman Brent Colburn, however, said in an e-mail that the focus of the convention should be on Obama and not on what Colburn called "the troubles of one individual."

Also Thursday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm's legal team said she has no authority to pardon Kilpatrick because he hasn't been convicted of a crime. One of his lawyers had raised that possibility in a letter to the governor Wednesday.

The state constitution says the governor can grant a pardon in a criminal case only after a conviction.

Granholm plans to hold a Sept. 3 hearing to decide if she should remove Kilpatrick from office. Earlier Thursday, she addressed the matter following a speech in Traverse City.

"I've said all along this has got to be resolved," Granholm said. "This has been very, very difficult for the city and for the state, and it's obvious why we need a resolution."

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Associated Press writers Ben Leubsdorf in Detroit, Tom Krisher in Traverse City and Kathy Barks Hoffman in Lansing contributed to this report.