Kwame Kilpatrick's attorneys argue for new trial

Dan Sewell
Associated Press

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2012.

Cincinnati — Attorneys argued Tuesday that imprisoned ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should get a new trial, telling a federal appeals panel that his trial counsel had a conflict of interest, among other issues that deprived him of rights.

The three U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals judges peppered attorneys for Kilpatrick and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson with questions about how the issues they raised affected the trial outcome.

"That doesn't sound that egregious to me," Judge Richard A. Griffin commented during defense arguments.

A jury convicted Kilpatrick in 2013 on charges including racketeering and tax evasion. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison; Ferguson got 21 years.

A prosecutor said during the trial that Kilpatrick, who quit in 2008 over text messages revealing an affair with chief of staff Christine Beatty, turned City Hall into a "private profit machine" by rigging contracts and demanding bribes. He's serving his time in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Kilpatrick attorney Harold Gurewitz said his client didn't get a fair trial for reasons including that his trial attorneys were affiliated with a law firm suing Kilpatrick in a civil case related to the corruption charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goetz countered that the attorneys had an "ethical wall" between the cases and there was no evidence of a conflict that affected the criminal case.

Ferguson's attorney, Susan Van Dusen, attacked testimony from federal agents used by the prosecution, saying they were allowed to use hearsay testimony and present the prosecution's case over and over.

The judges gave no timetable for their ruling. Judges Eugene Siler Jr. and Helene White joined Griffin on the panel.