Judge: Greene’s lawyer can have city text messages

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A federal judge today picked two magistrates to review thousands of text messages to find out if city officials thwarted an investigation into the 2003 shooting death of Tamara Greene, the stripper said to have danced at the long-rumored wild party at the mayoral Manoogian mansion.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told attorneys for the city and Greene’s family during an in-chambers meeting that he plans to appoint Magistrate Judges Steven Whalenand Michael Hluchaniuk to review the messages and tell him whether there is evidence of a police coverup of her death. The review is expected to take several weeks.

Birmingham lawyer Norman Yatooma, who represents Greene’s 14-year-old son in a lawsuit against the city, wants the messages of all city employees sent in the hours before and after Greene’s unsolved slaying on April 30, 2003. He also wants the messages of Kilpatrick, Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and dozens of other city employees from specific times between Sept. 1, 2002, and Oct. 31, 2007.

“The judge has given us text messages for all the time periods we’re asking for but he is providing those text messages in a very responsible manner by having them submitted under seal to the magistrates,” Yatooma said. “I think it’s the most responsible handling of the discovery request that the judge could have possibly ordered. It safeguards all conerns. And it also safeguards irrelevant information that is proprietary to the city from being disclosed to the public.”

Last month, Judge Rosen ordered the city to explain why he shouldn’t order SkyTel Corp. of Clinton, Miss., the city’s communications provider, to preserve text messages of 34 city employees who may know something about the investigation into Greene’s death. The demise of Greene, who went by the stage name Strawberry, has resurfaced in relation to a long-rumored party at the mayoral Manoogian Mansion in the fall of 2002.

In a Feb. 8 e-mail to lawyers involved in the case, Stephen Oshinsky, SkyTel’s director of systems architecture, wrote that the company is ready to comply with any ruling that orders release of the documents.

Attorney Jeffrey Morganroth, who represents the city, said today that he’s satisfied with the judge’s review process.

Yattoma said Morganroth will get to view the messages before the plaintiffs so that they have the opportunity to object.

Yatooma filed a subpoena last month for SkyTel to produce text messages between 1:30 and 5:30 a.m. on April 30, 2003, the day Greene was fatally shot in Detroit. He is representing Greene’s 14-year-old son, Jonathan Bond and Bond’s father Ernest Flagg, in a federal lawsuit alleging that Detroit police and city officials failed to thoroughly investigate her death.

Greene, 27, was killed in a drive-by shooting at 3:40 a.m. in a car that she was parking at Roselawn and West Outer Drive in Detroit.

The text messages being sought in the other time periods between 2002 and 2003 include those of former Kilpatrick bodyguards Mike Martin and Loronzo Jones, former chief of staff Christine Beatty, former Police Chief Jerry Oliver and former Detroit Police Lt. Alvin Bowman, who investigated Greene’s death.

Bowman charged in a lawsuit that city officials transferred him out of the homicide division because he was investigating what happened to Greene, who was rumored to have performed at an alleged Manoogian Mansion party in fall 2002.

Bowman left the department citing stress leave.

State Attorney General Mike Cox, whose office investigated the alleged party, dismissed the rumors as an urban legend. Michigan State Police officials also said they found no evidence of wrongdoing, although some officers testified during Bowman’s trial that Cox impeded their investigation by denying them subpoenas.

A Wayne County Circuit Court jury awarded Bowman $200,000 after a trial that ended Oct. 21, 2005.

http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080314/NEWS01/80314054

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