Former Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick loses latest bid for freedom

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick lost another bid to get out of federal prison Friday when an appeals court rejected claims a biased judge oversaw his landmark racketeering case.

The order filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, came seven months after Kilpatrick claimed U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds had a conflict of interest and should have recused herself. Edmunds presided over the six-month trial and sentenced Kilpatrick to 28 years in federal prison in 2013 for orchestrating a criminal enterprise out of City Hall.

Kwame Kilpatrick

The order is the latest rejection in a six-year quest to overturn the conviction that will keep Kilpatrick behind bars until August 2037. Kilpatrick, 49, also has sought clemency from President Donald Trump, but he doesn't appear to meet the Justice Department's standards for considering a reduction of his prison sentence.

In the latest failed bid for freedom, Kilpatrick argued the trial judge had a personal and professional relationship with his trial attorney, James Thomas, which prevented him from receiving a fair trial.

Kilpatrick claimed he learned about the conflict of interest while reading through grand jury transcripts on Aug. 5, 2012.

"When James Thomas walked into Judge Edmunds' chambers, the judge was already seated at the head of the large conference table," according to the motion. "He stopped, leaned over to the judge and said, 'Thank you for the lovely card for my wedding judge. My wife and I truly loved it." 

Kilpatrick's claim lacked merit, the appeals court concluded.

"Because merely sending a wedding card is not 'of a specifically intimate degree to induce a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts to conclude that [the judge’s] impartiality could be reasonably questioned,' this claim does not deserve encouragement to proceed further," according to the order filed Friday by appeals court Clerk Deborah Hunt.

Kilpatrick has a new, notorious home.

Bureau of Prisons records show Kilpatrick is being housed in a federal lockup in Brooklyn, New York, that has been labeled one of the most troubled facilities in the nation's federal prison system.

Kilpatrick has been moved to Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn after spending more than a year in a low-security prison in New Jersey.

The Brooklyn prison drew national headlines in January after a power outage left inmates in frigid conditions for several days.

Twitter: @robertsnellnews