Huffpost Detroit

Kwame Kilpatrick Lawyer, James Thomas Won't Be Dismissed, Rules Judge

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KWAME KILPATRICK LAWYER
On Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected a request from former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick: lawyer James Thomas be removed from his defense in his federal trial set to begin Sept. 6. | Alamy

As his federal corruption trial inches closer, Detroit's former mayor came up with a creative, though ultimately failed protest that leaves one hopeful for an autumn full of entertaining court anecdotes.

Kwame Kilpatrick requested his longtime lawyer James Thomas, now paid for by taxpayers, be removed from his defense. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ruled Tuesday he will have to make do the attorney who had represented him on other occasions and was appointed by the court at his request.

The Detroit Free Press describes the odder moments in court, which are somewhat par for the course with the defendant. At one moment, Kilpatrick claimed ignorance over a legal matter the judge said he ought to have understood as a law school graduate.

"If I was that good of a lawyer, I would have never gone to prison for cheating on my wife," Kilpatrick countered.

He also compared Thomas to the wrong "turkey knife" in a confusing metaphor that likened his trial to carving up a bird, and had the prosecution using the analogy in their own arguments.

According to the Detroit News, Thomas was unfazed by Kilpatrick losing faith or Edmunds' rejection, which could give Kilpatrick a reason to appeal down the road.

Kilpatrick sought to drop Thomas over a crumbling relationship and two conflicts of interest, including his lawyer's relationship with Gasper Fiore, a witness in the trial from whom Kilpatrick allegedly extorted money. The defense agreed to drop the counts related to Fiore, according to Fox 2.

Kilpatrick has also made ongoing attempts to get the case dismissed for a possible underrepresentation of African Americans in the juror pool.

Juror selection is now underway for the federal corruption trial that charges Kilpatrick, along with co-defendants friend and contractor Bobby Ferguson, father Bernard Kilpatrick and former water department head Victor Mercado with running a criminal enterprise.

On Wednesday, the attorney for Kilpatrick's co-defendant, Ferguson, also disclosed a possibly conflict of interest. Like Thomas, she previously represented one of the witnesses testifying in the Sept. trial. According to the Detroit News, attorney Gerald Evelyn said both Ferguson and Johnny Hardiman, the witness who alleges the defendants extorted $12.9 million from his construction company will waive conflict of interest.

The trial, set to begin Sept. 6, will likely be full of many more Kwame antics: just last week he showed up in court with tape behind his ears, which was revealed to be an Eastern-medicine-inspired weight-loss technique. According to WXYZ, Kilpatrick has already lost 16 pounds.

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