Tamara Greene lawyer seeks to widen witness list in e-mail probe

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The lawyer for the family of a slain stripper said to have danced at a rumored party at the Manoogian mansion wants to question more people, including Kwame Kilpatrick’s successor as mayor, to find out what happened to e-mail and computer equipment he requested for his lawsuit against the city.

Attorney Norman Yatooma has asked U.S. Magistrate R. Steven Whalen for permission to question City Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr., who replaced Kilpatrick when he resigned in the text messaging scandal. Yatooma also wants to question city Law Department director Krystal Crittendon; Mayer and Jeffrey Morganroth, who represent Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and three other people.

Yatooma says the city, through negligence or dishonesty, destroyed e-mail that could show whether Kilpatrick or other city officials sabotaged Tamara Greene’s murder investigation to prevent her killers from being found.

Greene, 27, was killed in a drive-by shooting in April 2003, some eight months after supposedly dancing at the party. Her family sued Kilpatrick and the city in 2005.

Lawyers for the city and Kilpatrick have disputed the family’s claims and want the lawsuit dismissed.

But before that can happen, Whalen must deal with Yatooma’s ongoing request to penalize the city for failing to produce e-mail, computers and hard drives for his lawsuit. He wants Whalen to issue a default judgment, in effect declaring him the winner of the suit, or other sanctions against the city and Kilpatrick.

The city says it has produced everything in its possession, but Yatooma says the city is still holding out.

There was no immediate comment from the city or Kilpatrick’s lawyers about Yatooma’s latest request.

Whalen has held three hearings on the issue in December and last week.

Yatooma was to question Beatty on Wednesday, but the hearing was reset to next Wednesday because she was unavailable.

Besides asking Whalen to let him add more witnesses to his lineup, Yatooma reiterated his request to allow his technology expert to examine the city’s computer system.

He said last week’s testimony from Kilpatrick, former Law Department director Ruth Carter — now a 36th District Court judge — and former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings, indicated that they saved all of the e-mail in their sent box on the city’s computer system and destroyed some or many of the e-mails in their inbox.

Because a city computer specialist testified in December that Detroit’s computer system only purges e-mail from the trash folders, Yatooma said the city should have been able to produce e-mail from the sent or inboxes of several past or present employees.

“They all have a pattern and a history of dishonesty,” Yatooma said of Kilpatrick and other city officials.

http://www.freep.com/article/20110315/NEWS01/110315036/0/NEWS06/Tamara-Greene-lawyer-seeks-widen-witness-list-e-mail-probe?odyssey=nav%7Chead

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