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Monday, August 25, 2008

Governor Granholm Should Grant Due Process To Mayor Kilpatrick

I believe in law and the first thing that I learned in criminal law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty and convicted by a jury of his or her peers. I have a fundamental belief that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick should not be removed as Mayor of the City of Detroit by the Governor not withstanding the constitutional authority vested in the governor. I want to carefully explain my position so that everyone understands that I see the removal statute as a disenfranchisement tool as applied to the Mayor and the electorate of Detroit.

Let us first address the criminal issues. The mayor has to face a county wide jury pool that will include many citizens outside of Detroit. While this should give us all pause for concern about whether or not he will receive a fair trial it is also the reality of the system we live with and have vested our faith. I trust that the judge will give special latitude to the trial counsel given the special publicity and political circumstances so that a truly representative jury can be impaneled.

This necessarily leads to the removal argument itself. The most important argument against removal is this: the People of Detroit elected Mayor Kilpatrick and the People alone should determine his future. Governor Granholm should not be permitted to exercise her authority to disenfranchise the citizens of Detroit by stepping in and removing the Mayor before his trial. Let the trial proceed and then if necessary the Governor can act on behalf of the City Council to make a decision. But presently the decision to move forward is one that is too complicated and too political to be attempted without accusations of racial animus to be tossed whether fairly or not.

The City Council and all of those who oppose the Mayor can argue as cogently and vehemently as they like that there is no jeopardy or United States Constitutional 5th Amendment issues impeding Governor Granholm’s inquest but that is absolutely wrong. There is no way that Mayor Kilpatrick can present an organized and vigorous defense before the Governor without sacrificing criminal privileges that are sacrosanct. As a lawyer, the Governor has a duty to respect those Constitutional Rights as would any other presiding officer for any other tribunal, administrative or judicial or any hybrid combination thereof. Moreover, to claim that the Mayor’s 8th Amendment right to a fair and impartial jury is not going to be affected by the Governor’s Open Adversarial Hearing is an absolute deception. Intended or not this deception goes to the heart of two very fundamental constitutional rights every American Citizen enjoys. Governor Granholm is proceeding to jeopardize those rights on behalf of the news media for no real expediency and the people of Detroit are disenfranchised in the process.

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