Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lawyers investigated in Detroit $8.4-million whistle-blower lawsuit settlement secret agreement

City attorney cleared of wrongdoing in Free Press records request
October 28, 2008

City of Detroit lawyer Ellen Ha won’t face professional misconduct charges for her handling of Free Press’s public records requests that revealed the existence of a secret side agreement to last year’s $8.4-million settlement of a police whistle-blower lawsuit and eventually brought down Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

“The Attorney Grievance Commission determined that the evidence reviewed did not warrant further action by the commission,” it said in a one-page letter dated Monday to Ha. She received the letter today.

...Ha told the Free Press and a Wayne County judge after last year’s $8.4-million whistle-blower lawsuit settlement that she was unaware of any secret agreement. But documents the judge later released in a Free Press freedom of information lawsuit showed the mayor’s lawyers had created a secret side agreement to conceal the existence of text messages showing that Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, had lied at the whistle-blower trial.

Ha later testified at Kilpatrick’s removal hearing that she had been kept in the dark about the confidential agreement and said such agreements are improper because the public is entitled to know the details of settlements involving public funds.

Deputy State Treasurer Valdemar Washington, then a Flint lawyer who was called in to help facilitate a settlement of the whistle-blower suit, was cleared in the grievance commission investigation in September.

The commission is investigating other lawyers involved in the secret settlement and its aftermath. They are Kilpatrick, who was a lawyer until he surrendered his law license when he pled guilty to obstruction of justice charges; Samuel McCargo, who represented Kilpatrick in the whistle-blower suit; Assistant City Attorney Valerie Colbert-Osamuede, who represented the city; John Johnson, then-head of the Law Department; Wilson Colepand II of Detroit, a private lawyer who represented the city; William Mitchell III of Southfield, who went to the city’s text messaging provider to find out why the messages hadn’t been destroyed; and Michael Stefani and law partner Frank Rivers, of Royal Oak, who represented the cops.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Judge says Ted Stevens prosecutor signaled witness on stand

I hope there won't be too many people that fall off their chairs in shock when they read this story.

Washington Post
An Angry Judge at Stevens Trial
10/ 7/2008
by Derek Kravitz

The surprises keep coming at the corruption trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan admonished Anchorage attorney Robert Bundy after the judge thought he saw him signaling to his client, Bill Allen, on the witness stand yesterday. Sullivan threatened to hold Bundy in contempt and called Bundy's gestures "borderline obstruction of justice," according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Bundy did not appear in court today, thinking he would not be welcome, said his law partner, Creighton Magid. "He is torn up about this," said Magid, who also said Bundy "vehemently denies" making any signals to Allen, according to The Associated Press.

Allen, the government's star witness against Stevens, is making his second trip to the witness stand as the trial enters its third week. (Roll Call notes that by cooperating with federal authorities, he is allowed to keep millions that he had earned from the sale of his Anchorage oil firm, Veco Corp.)

Yesterday, jurors heard secretly-recorded phone calls (transcript) between Stevens and Allen. Stevens, 84, is accused of hiding improper gifts he received from Allen, including home improvements to the tune of $250,000.

On the tapes (and in between the occasional four-letter word, the health tips and the heartfelt I-love-you's from Allen) Stevens tells his fishing and drinking buddy that he's confident he's done nothing wrong -- but also says he's worried about possible jail time.

"These guys can't really hurt us," he says in one phone call, referring to government prosecutors. "They're not going to shoot us. Hell, the worst that can happen to us is that we run up a bunch of legal fees, and might lose and might have to pay a fine and might have to serve a little time in jail -- I hope to Christ it never gets to that -- and I don't think it will. I'm developing the attitude that I don't think I did anything wrong so I'm going to go right through my life and keep doing what I think is right."...