DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Friday asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on whether documents from a secret settlement of a whistle-blowers' lawsuit should be made public.
The documents include embarrassing and sexually explicit text messages between Kilpatrick and his former top aide.
The city filed its motion to take a state Appeals Court ruling to the higher court more than two hours ahead of a 5 p.m. Friday deadline.
A three-judge Appeals Court panel said Wednesday that a circuit court judge was correct in ordering the documents to be unsealed. They are part of an $8.4 million settlement the city made with former officers in last summer's whistle-blowers' suit.
The documents could open the door to a perjury case against Kilpatrick. The Wayne County prosecutor already is investigating.
The Detroit Free Press first reported last month on the embarrassing text messages between the married mayor and his now-former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty.
Both had denied having a physical relationship under oath in a lawsuit filed by two former police officers who claimed they were fired or forced to resign for investigating claims that Kilpatrick used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.
A jury ruled against the city in September, and despite vowing to appeal that decision, Kilpatrick agreed to pay $8.4 million to the plaintiffs and a third former officer who filed a separate lawsuit.
Other settlement agreement documents made public Feb. 8 reveal that Kilpatrick and Beatty authorized and signed a confidential agreement with the three officers and their attorney to keep the text messages secret.
The text messages were sent to Beatty's city-issued pager in 2002 and 2003.
The Free Press has not said how it obtained them. The Free Press and The Detroit News sued the city to get sealed documents in the case to determine whether there had been a secret settlement to keep the text messages confidential.
The city denied there was a secret deal.
Lawyers for both papers also conducted a court-approved deposition of attorney Michael Stefani, who represented each of the three former officers.
The appeals court rejected city lawyers' argument that the lawsuit agreement documents and Stefani's deposition should be kept sealed because they are part of court-ordered mediation in the whistle-blowers' suit.
Prosecutor Kym Worthy is investigating if Kilpatrick and Beatty, who since has resigned, should be charged with perjury.
"I expect actually that I will have something for you within the next 30 days," Worthy said Wednesday.