Published August 08, 2008
DETROIT – Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was jailed Thursday for a bond violation in his perjury case, his pleas for leniency rejected by a judge who made it clear the mayor would get no special treatment.
Kilpatrick, charged with perjury and other felonies over his testimony in a civil trial, apologized and acknowledged that he made a mistake when he visited Windsor, Ontario, minutes away from Detroit, for city business last month. But District Judge Ronald Giles was not moved, saying he needed to treat the mayor like any other defendant.
"What matters to me ... is how the court overall is perceived and how if it was not Kwame Kilpatrick sitting in that seat, if it was John Six-Pack sitting in that seat, what would I do? And that answer is simple," Giles said.
It was a stunning outcome, exceeding even what prosecutors had sought. And it came two days after Kilpatrick's mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, survived a Democratic primary election that was dominated by her son's legal woes.
Kilpatrick was photographed Thursday and given a green jumpsuit like ones worn by other inmates. He will be treated like any other prisoner, "no better, no worse," Sheriff Warren Evans said.
But there are a few differences because Kilpatrick is classified as high-profile.
"He will not be in the general population. He'll have his own cell (and) no direct contact with other inmates," said John Roach, a spokesman for the sheriff.
Kilpatrick and former top aide Christine Beatty are charged with perjury, misconduct and obstruction of justice, all tied to their testimony in a civil trial last year. At the heart of the case: steamy text messages contradicting their claim that they didn't have a romantic relationship.
Kilpatrick and Beatty waived their right Thursday to a preliminary exam next month. That means their case now goes directly to Wayne County Circuit Court.
At the end of the morning proceedings, prosecutor Robert Moran talked about the mayor's trip to Canada and asked Giles to ban Kilpatrick from any additional out-of-state travel. He called it a flagrant violation that could have been avoided by a simple phone call.
"It's not serious to him that he's a criminal defendant. ... This court should be outraged," Moran told the judge.
Kilpatrick apologized and said, "I've been living in an incredible state of pressure and scrutiny" for seven months — a reference to the public disclosure of the text messages.
The mayor had paid $7,500 — 10 percent of his bond in the perjury case — to remain free, along with other conditions, including notifying the court about leaving the state on city business.
He said he dashed to Windsor to discuss the sale of Detroit's share of a tunnel between the U.S. and Canada, a deal proposed as a way to fill a hole in the city's budget.
"We got the deal back on track. ... It wasn't a spur of the moment, willy-nilly, I can frolic in Canada" trip, Kilpatrick said.
Told he must go to jail, Kilpatrick stood up and, accompanied by a courtroom deputy, walked through a doorway behind Giles' chair. He was not handcuffed.
"I think it's the most extreme measure he can take," defense attorney Jim Thomas told The Associated Press as he dashed a few blocks to circuit court to try to overturn Giles' ruling.
But Circuit Judge Thomas E. Jackson asked for a transcript and said he would wait until 9 a.m. Friday to take up the matter, guaranteeing at least a night in jail for the mayor.
Thomas pleaded with Jackson to act Thursday, but the judge refused, sternly declaring: "I just gave you my answer."
Another defense attorney, Jim Parkman, said they would ask Jackson to order an electronic tether or some other conditions to get Kilpatrick out of jail.
The mayor's chief of staff, Kandia Milton, named a deputy mayor just days ago, will run the city in his absence.
The mayor has resisted calls for his resignation or a plea bargain as his legal woes pile up. But when asked about a possible deal, mayoral spokesman Marcus Reese said Thursday that "talks are ongoing" between prosecutors and the defense. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office had no comment.
Still pending: the results of a state police investigation into allegations that the mayor physically interfered with a sheriff's detective who was trying to serve a subpoena on Kilpatrick's friend July 24. Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said he would announce Friday morning whether he intends to bring an assault charge against Kilpatrick.
Defense attorneys this week predicted some kind of charge, calling it a "done deal."
The detective and another investigator said Kilpatrick burst onto the porch at his sister's house, shouting obscenities and shoving one of them.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy praised the decision to put the mayor behind bars.
"Judge Giles treated this defendant as any other defendant would have been treated," she said.
After learning that Kilpatrick was going to jail, Gov. Jennifer Granholm postponed two afternoon events in Grand Rapids to hold "internal meetings."
In May, the Detroit City Council asked Granholm to invoke a little-used state law and remove Kilpatrick from office for misconduct. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3.
"Because of the separate legal process under way before the governor, the governor will not offer any reaction to ongoing criminal matters involving the mayor," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.
City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. would succeed Kilpatrick if the mayor resigns or is forced from office.
The council accuses Kilpatrick of violating the city charter by not revealing a confidentiality agreement linked to an $8.4 million lawsuit settlement.