VIDEO: Judge Still Won’t Release Greene Files
DETROIT — As expected, a federal judge in Detroit is refusing to take the cover off certain documents in a civil lawsuit related to the unsolved slaying of stripper Tamara Greene.
U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen said Wednesday he needs to protect the ongoing murder investigation and the privacy of people who aren’t directly involved in the case. He expressed a similar view in during a hearing on May 12.
News media have asked Rosen to unseal certain documents, especially depositions.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has asked Rosen to restrict public access to the civil litigation over the unsolved murder of the Detroit stripper.
The news media’s interest must be trumped by the ongoing investigation into Greene’s death, Worthy wrote in an April 29 letter to Rosen.
Greene’s family is suing high-ranking police officials and former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, claiming they stifled the homicide investigation in 2003. Those accused have denied the charges.
“Criminal investigations cannot be conducted by the media… I am simply asking that during the discovery phase of the civil lawsuit, that the Court maintains the procedural safeguards currently in place to avoid any interference with the ongoing investigation,” said Worthy in the letter.
Greene’s Birmingham Attorney Norman Yatooma had been in favor of more public access to the file, noting that publicity typically produces new, relevant information. But he changed his stance after seeing Worthy’s letter.
“In the best interest of Tammy Greene’s family and with the effort to solve her investigation and our investigation, I will defer to Kym Worthy,” said Yatooma.
Seven years after Greene’s fatal shooting, any progress in the investigation “could be hampered by the improper disclosure of information crucial to the case,” Worthy said.
Worthy said the initial probe into Greene’s death was “woefully inadequate.”
The sealed documents include the deposition of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who investigated rumors of a 2002 party hosted by Kilpatrick and possibly attended by Greene. Cox has called it an “urban legend.”
Greene, a dancer known as Strawberry, was rumored to have been at the “urban legend” party at the Manoogian mansion thrown by Kilpatrick in 2002.
It was also rumored that Greene was assaulted by the mayor’s wife, Carlita, when she walked into the party and saw Greene with Kilpatrick.
On April 30, 2003, Greene was in a car with her boyfriend on Detroit’s west side when a gunman opened fire on their vehicle, killing Greene and wounding her boyfriend.
In her letter, Worthy said her office’s role in the investigation of Greene’s death is no “urban legend.” Spokeswoman Maria Miller declined to comment when asked why the prosecutor chose those words.
Rosen said Wednesday that he did not want to release depositions that may implicate people who are not involved in the murder case.
Attorneys representing the media argued that Cox’s depositions should be unsealed because it was about the party, and not the Greene murder investigation.
“There is nothing that could even conceivably adversely impact the homicide investigation,” said Free Press Attorney Herschel Fink.
“My office never investigated the murder of Tamara Greene, that has always been with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Police Department,” said Cox in a written statement. “Despite that fact, last November I volunteered to be deposed in an open court room before a judge, the press and the public. The judge knows my position has never changed, but this is his courtroom and he is in charge,” said Cox.
Rosen argued that the people in the depositions have a right to privacy.
Also sealed are depositions given by Michigan State Police officers.
MSP Lt. Curt Schram testified for more than six hours in November. He was one of three detectives that were looking into her death until the case was closed.
Although his testimony was sealed, Local 4 Defenders have learned that Schram said Cox shut down the investigation into the rumored Manoogian Mansion party and an assault against Greene while there were still solid leads.
Rosen has ordered that Kilpatrick’s wife and father also sit for depositions.
Rosen said Wednesday that his opinion on whether the Greene files will go public will most likely not be for a few days because he wants to give a lengthy opinion so that the public understands his decision.