Judge: Greene Case Attorney Can Charge Detroit
DETROIT — A judge ruled Wednesday that the attorney for slain Detroit mother Tamara Greene can bill the city for years of his costs and fees.
Greene was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2003. It was rumored that she danced at a never-proven party at the Detroit mayor’s Manoogian Mansion that was thrown by then-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in 2002.
Her family is suing the city on claims Kilpatrick and other high-ranking city officials thwarted the investigation into her death.
The family’s attorney, Norman Yatooma, has said the city has repeatedly withheld records in the case and that evidence related to the case has been intentionally destroyed, specifically e-mails sent between officials on city-owned computers.
In an August ruling, Judge Magistrate Steven Whalen said it would be “a gross understatement to say that the city acted in bad faith and was at fault in causing the destruction of evidence”
Whalen said Kilpatrick, Christine Beatty, Ruth Carter and Ella Bully-Cummings sent emails while in office and had a responsibility to preserve them.
Whalen said Yatooma should be awarded his attorney fees and costs incurred in addressing the city’s destruction of evidence.
Federal Judge Gerald Rosen on Wednesday backed up Whalen’s ruling, saying: “The city and its counsel hindered rather than aided this effort at every turn, it is utterly irresponsible for the city and its counsel to see to minimize their culpability, shift the blame and throw up their hands and profess their bewilderment at what they possibly could have done wrong or done differently.”
Rosen said Yatooma had 14 days to submit his charges.
“Indeed, it is difficult to read the city’s present objections as anything other than a continuation of the persistent effort by the city and its in-house counsel to avoid taking responsibility for egregious conduct that has seriously undermined the truth-seeking mission of civil litigation,” Rosen wrote.
Yatooma said Kilpatrick had intent or aggressive disregard to destroy evidence in Greene’s murder case.
“I don’t think a straight-faced argument can be made that this wasn’t the intent here,” Yatooma said. “Every cop that has touched this file has paid for it with their job.”