DETROIT – Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick began his journey through the legal process on Tuesday, offering a not guilty plea during a brief arraignment hearing in a downtown courtroom.
The mayor and former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty appeared for separate hearings, neither of which lasted more than 10 minutes.
Not guilty pleas were entered on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office in a scandal that is threatening to prematurely end Kilpatrick's second term.
Both were released on personal bonds, but would have to pay $75,000 if they break them.
District Court Magistrate Steve Lockhart set June 9 as the date for their preliminary examinations.
In setting the mayor's personal bond, Lockhart noted defendants generally are restricted to the state of Michigan while their cases are pending. However, given Kilpatrick's position, Lockhart granted him the right to travel anywhere within the United States without prior permission, but said Kilpatrick still must give advance notice to the court.
Lockhart also gave Beatty permission to travel to Chicago on Wednesday to get her children and said she would need advance permission to travel outside Michigan for any other legitimate purposes.
When asked by one of his defense attorneys if he would agree to waive the 14-day rule for holding a preliminary exam, Kilpatrick shrugged his shoulders and said "Sure." It was the only word he or Beatty uttered in the courtroom.
Beatty kept her eyes focused down for much of her six-minute appearance, turning quickly at its conclusion to grab a bag and rush out of the room.
Kilpatrick and Beatty are accused of lying under oath about an affair and their roles in the firing of a top police official. Defense attorneys say their clients will be exonerated.
It was business as usual for Kilpatrick earlier in the day. He met with the leaders of several philanthropic organizations, just hours before the arraignment.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran told Lockhart he wanted to point out for the record that there could be a potential conflict of interest with the entire 36th District Court because one or two sitting judges could be called as witnesses in the case. He also said attorney Mayer Morganroth could have a potential conflict of interest because he's representing Beatty in this case and the city and Kilpatrick in a separate civil matter.
Kilpatrick lawyer Dan Webb said he was aware of the prosecution's concern about the judges and may address that later. Morganroth told the court there was no conflict at this time "nor is there any potential that we see."
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges on Monday after an investigation that began in late January after the Detroit Free Press published excerpts from 14,000 text messages that were sent or received in 2002-03 from Beatty's city-issued pager.
The messages called into question testimony Kilpatrick and Beatty gave last August in a lawsuit filed by two police officers who said they were fired for investigating claims that the mayor used his security unit to cover up extramarital affairs.
In court, Kilpatrick and Beatty strongly denied having an intimate relationship. But the text messages revealed a flirty, sometimes sexually explicit, dialogue about where to meet and how to conceal their trysts.
Kilpatrick, 37, is married with three children. Beatty, also 37, was married at the time and has two children.
The city eventually agreed to pay $8.4 million to the two officers and a third former officer. Some of the charges brought against the mayor accuse him of agreeing to the settlement in an effort to keep the text messages from becoming public.
All of the charges against the mayor are felonies. Under the city charter, a felony conviction would mean the mayor's immediate expulsion.
Kilpatrick has said he will not resign, and Webb said forcing him to step down now would punish the mayor before he has had his day in court.