On Monday March 11, a jury found former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick guilty of racketeering, along with 23 other charges including extortion. Racketeering and extortion are both offenses which carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison. The public corruption trial against Kilpatrick and two co-defendants, one his father, continued over a period of five months.
Essentially Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and Bobby W. Ferguson, a city contractor, were accused of using Kilpatrick’s position as mayor to enrich their own lives for several years through kickbacks, shakedowns, and bid-rigging schemes, according to prosecutors. The defendant’s in the case were charged with using the mayor’s office to operate a criminal enterprise according to the indictment which was filed in 2010. Prosecutors accused Kwame Kilpatrick of illegally using state grants and nonprofit funds for personal expenses, and guiding $84 million in work designated for other contractors to Bobby Ferguson through bid-rigging. According to prosecutors, Ferguson then split the proceeds with Kilpatrick.
Monday afternoon, Kilpatrick’s defense lawyer James C. Thomas vowed that he would appeal the conviction for racketeering and request a new trial. Thomas’s reaction to the conviction of his client was described as “numbing.” An article at Detroit News states that Thomas had laid the groundwork for an appeal during the trial, which took place at City Hall. Pretrial publicity, numerous rulings made prior to the start of the trial regarding the makeup of the jury, and the refusal of a judge to allow Kilpatrick to terminate his lawyer the day prior to the trial beginning are a few of the bases which may be used to appeal the conviction. Kilpatrick attempted to have the trial moved out of Michigan due to saturation in the media, claiming he could not get a fair trial, but was unsuccessful in his efforts.
Upon his conviction Kilpatrick was taken directly into federal custody and denied bond, along with Bobby Ferguson who was convicted on nine counts.
Michigan post-conviction attorneys know it is critical for individuals who have been convicted of a serious crime have a capable and aggressive lawyer to represent them in appealing their sentence or conviction. While no lawyer can guarantee a successful outcome, it is important to secure legal representation of an attorney who will thoroughly investigate your case and fight aggressively for a good outcome; experience in appellate matters makes a tremendous difference.
Individuals who feel they have been wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced should consult with a capable Michigan criminal appeals lawyer right away for guidance and strong legal representation.