Detroit Mayor’s Tether Ordered Off, Then Back On
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DETROIT — Hours after being told to remove his electronic tether by one judge today, embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was ordered by another judge to put it back on, a game of legal pingpong between his two separate criminal cases.
Mr. Kilpatrick also gained, then quickly lost, a break in travel restrictions that could have allowed him to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver this month. The point might have been moot anyway: The mayor is a superdelegate, but a spokesman for presumptive nominee Barack Obama said Mr. Kilpatrick isn’t wanted there.
The day began when a judge overseeing Mr. Kilpatrick’s arraignment on perjury and other charges said the mayor could get rid of the tether around his ankle and attend the convention.
By afternoon, however, another judge handling assault charges against the mayor signed an order emphasizing that the tether remains a condition of release in the assault case. It was back on the mayor’s ankle nearly four hours after it was removed.
“The lawyers for the mayor said they were willing to comply,” a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the assault case, Rusty Hills, said.
Mr. Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, were charged in March with conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office, mostly tied to their testimony in a civil trial. Sexually explicit text messages between the pair, published by the Detroit Free Press in January, contradict their sworn denials of an affair, a key point in the trial last year involving a former deputy police chief.
Separately, Mr. Kilpatrick is accused of assaulting two investigators who were at his sister’s house trying to serve a subpoena in the perjury case. District Court Judge Ronald Giles was to hold a hearing tomorrow to determine if there is probable cause for trial on the latest charges.
The Wayne County Circuit Judge, Leonard Townsend, who is overseeing the perjury case, turned a routine arraignment today into a dramatic scene when he suddenly declared that Mr. Kilpatrick could get rid of the device that tracks his moves and go to Denver. The mayor had been barred from traveling outside the Detroit metro area.
“I see absolutely no reason for that and it’s silly,” said Mr. Townsend, drawing an immediate protest from the prosecutor, who promised an appeal.
Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey reminded the judge that Mr. Kilpatrick’s travel was restricted because he earlier had violated the conditions of his release.
“I think you’re losing your composure,” Mr. Townsend said.
By afternoon it was clear that the ban on out-of-state travel remains as part of the assault case.
“If someone wants to discuss changes to that, they’re going to have to bring that up with us,” Mr. Hills said.
Mr. Kilpatrick’s lawyer, James Thomas, said high-ranking Democrats want the mayor to attend the convention. An Obama spokesman, Brent Colburn, however, said in an e-mail that the focus of the convention should be on Mr. Obama and not on what Mr. Colburn called “the troubles of one individual.”
Also today, Governor Jennifer Granholm’s legal team said she has no authority to pardon Mr. Kilpatrick because he hasn’t been convicted of a crime. One of his lawyers had raised that possibility in a letter to the governor yesterday.
The state constitution says the governor can grant a pardon in a criminal case only after a conviction.
Ms. Granholm plans to hold a Sept. 3 hearing to decide if she should remove Kilpatrick from office. Earlier today, she addressed the matter following a speech in Traverse City.
“I’ve said all along this has got to be resolved,” Ms. Granholm said. “This has been very, very difficult for the city and for the state, and it’s obvious why we need a resolution.”
Associated Press writers Ben Leubsdorf in Detroit, Tom Krisher in Traverse City and Kathy Barks Hoffman in Lansing contributed to this report.