Kilpatrick tries again to overturn conviction

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit – Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick revived his bid for freedom Wednesday, asking a federal judge to vacate his racketeering conviction and set aside a 28-year prison sentence, saying there was no corruption during his scandal-plagued tenure.

“There was no ‘pay to play,’ nor any evidence to suggest it,” Kilpatrick wrote. “The theater surrounding the trial, and the misinformation and wrong instructions given to the jury, created an environment of unfairness and injustice. (I) did not receive a fair trial, and was convicted of activities that were not unlawful.”

Kilpatrick, 47, made the request Wednesday to his trial judge, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, 13 months after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal.

“You get a second bite at the apple to challenge your conviction. How far it goes, we will see,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor.

Kilpatrick, who has 20 years remaining on his landmark public corruption sentence, filed the request from a federal prison in Oklahoma, where he is destitute.

According to court records, Kilpatrick has 96 cents in his prison bank account – the only money remaining from a small stipend from family and friends that helps pay for phone calls and personal hygiene items.

Kilpatrick’s request is largely a rehash of arguments rejected by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but includes a new wrinkle.

Kilpatrick argues he never committed extortion, bribery or racketeering and that his conduct did not constitute an official act.

“At trial, several of (my) subordinates testified that he may have asked them to attend a meeting or make a phone call,” Kilpatrick wrote. “Not a single one of (my) subordinates gave testimony that (I) expected them to do anything other than that.”

The request appears pegged to new case law since Kilpatrick’s conviction that defined “official acts,” Henning said. If Kilpatrick is successful in getting convictions tossed for those crimes, he could receive a lesser sentence, Henning said.

Kilpatrick repeated some of the same, failed arguments, including that the judge erred by denying his request for a new taxpayer-funded defense lawyer. Kilpatrick’s previous appeal was based, in part, on the claim his lawyer, James C. Thomas, had a conflict of interest.

Kilpatrick also attacked testimony from federal agents, saying the testimony included “lay opinions.”

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