Ex-NYC Police Chief Bernard Kerik Considers Filing Lawsuit

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, jailed and awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, says he is under indescribable stress and has considered filing a lawsuit "to redress the civil wrongs I believe I have suffered," according to newly unsealed court papers.

Kerik alluded to a potential lawsuit several times in an affidavit that was unsealed Wednesday night as part of the corruption case against him, which is scheduled to go to trial Monday. He has pleaded not guilty.

He also said he has thought about withdrawing his guilty plea in a 3-year-old Bronx case related to the corruption charges.

Defense lawyer Barry Berke would not comment.

Judge Stephen Robinson had demanded that Kerik detail his relationship with New Jersey lawyer Anthony Modafferi in the affidavit. Modafferi was not part of Kerik's defense team, the judge said, but had seen some sealed court information.

The issue eventually resulted in Robinson revoking Kerik's bail and sending him to jail Tuesday for violating a court order governing the distribution of sealed material. He said Kerik "sees himself as a victim."

In the heavily redacted affidavit, Kerik said that at his very first meeting with Modafferi, in March of 2008, they discussed "the remedies I might have if I opted to bring a 1983 action."

A "1983 action" is a case brought under section 1983 of the federal Civil Rights Act.

It's not clear whom Kerik would sue, although he and his supporters have suggested that federal prosecutors have gone too far in their case against him. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Kerik said he and Modafferi also discussed the possibility of withdrawing Kerik's 2006 misdemeanor guilty plea in the Bronx case. That case, like the federal case, centered on charges that Kerik accepted the gift of a renovation of his Bronx apartment.

Kerik said that between May and November 2008, "I had several conversations with Mr. Modafferi concerning the Bronx case, including the preparation of a motion to vacate the plea and instituting a civil litigation to redress the civil wrongs I believe I have suffered."

Steven Reed, spokesman for the Bronx district attorney's office, said there had been no motion to withdraw Kerik's plea.

"People can and do make motions to withdraw pleas periodically but those motions are subject to review by the courts," he said.

Kerik's affidavit said that this year, "Modafferi provided me with his written view of the case, reviewed the law, and discussed legal strategies, including bringing a civil rights action."

Modafferi's lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he would not comment on the lawsuits discussed by Kerik and Modafferi.

At one point in the affidavit, Kerik blames stress, in part, for causing him to forget that the court order existed.

"The stress on me, my wife and my children is without description," he said in the affidavit.