Detroit’s chief lawyer, Sharon McPhail ordered to keep emails in stripper suit
Detroit— The city’s top lawyer and Sharon McPhail, the ex-councilwoman and former general counsel to Kwame Kilpatrick, were given a copy of a federal judge’s order to preserve evidence related to the Tamara “Strawberry” Greene lawsuit, according to federal court records.
The disclosure was made in an affidavit filed this afternoon in U.S. District Court, where a federal judge is trying to determine whether the city intentionally destroyed emails that could shed light on Greene’s unsolved killing. She is rumored to have danced at a never-proven party at the Manoogian Mansion, the mayor’s official residence.
A federal judge in March 2008 ordered the city to preserve evidence. Soon after, lawyer Mayer Morganroth, who represented Kilpatrick and the city, said he discussed the order with McPhail and John Johnson, who at the time was the city’s top lawyer.
The affidavit shows the city is lying about how it handled the federal court order, Greene family lawyer Norman Yatooma said. It was filed after a series of hearings in federal court to determine if the city intentionally destroyed emails.
“Not only did they ignore the order, now they’ve come to court and lied about it,” Yatooma said.
Krystal Crittendon, head of the city’s Law Department, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Morganroth also said he discussed the order with city lawyer John Schapka and Crittendon in mid-March 2008.
Morganroth does not know whether the preservation order was communicated to city employees.
“We didn’t report to the troops,” he told The Detroit News. “McPhail and Johnson were to instruct their employees.”
Kilpatrick testified during a hearing in March that he did not remember a federal judge ordering the city to preserve emails and other evidence.
“I don’t think I was violating any federal court order in pushing ‘delete’ on an email,” Kilpatrick told Yatooma. “I don’t think you do, either.”
“No, I do,” Yatooma countered.
Kilpatrick also said he never talked about or had email discussions about Greene’s death and called the lawsuit “frivolous.”
Greene family lawyers are trying to find emails received and sent by Kilpatrick and others from September 2002 through June 2003.
A federal judge could issue a default judgment against the city for failing to turn over the emails or grant a request from Yatooma to conduct a forensic audit of every city computer and storage device. That process would be costly and last about four weeks.
The email probe is one aspect of a lawsuit filed in 2005 that accuses Kilpatrick and the city of obstructing an investigation into Greene’s unsolved death.
Greene was killed in an unsolved drive-by shooting in 2003.
The city and Kilpatrick lawyer James Thomas have asked Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen to dismiss the lawsuit.