Judge orders text messages preserved in lawsuit by exotic dancer’s family

A federal judge today ordered the city of Detroit and SkyTel Inc. to preserve a huge raft of possible evidence connected with a lawsuit brought by the family of a murdered exotic dancer.

U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen’s ordered the city and SkyTel to preserve all text messages sent and received on the SkyTel pagers of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and 33 other current or former city officials for selected periods between Sept. 1, 2002 and Oct. 31, 2007.

The father of Greene’s 14-year-old son sued the mayor and other city and police officials in 2005, alleging the investigation of Greene’s April 30, 2003, murder was hampered and interfered with for political reasons.

Greene’s name has been linked to a long rumored but never substantiated party at the mayor’s Manoogian Mansion in the fall of 2002. At least two former Detroit police officers who filed successful whistle-blower lawsuits against the city alleged that their investigation of the alleged party and/or Greene’s murder was among the reasons for retaliation against them.

Today’s order — much broader than an earlier one to preserve certain SkyTel messages issued by Wayne Circuit Judge Robert Colombo Jr. — covers pager messages related to the mayor, his wife, Carlita, former mayoral Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings and more than two dozen other current or former city officials, most of them connected with the police department.

The city had not objected to the preservation order, though city lawyer Mayer Morganroth argued the order was unnecessary in light of Colombo’s earlier order. Morganroth also argued many of the items Norman Yatooma, the lawyer for Greene’s son, wanted preserved were irrelevant to the lawsuit and would not be allowed to be introduced as evidence in the case.

Rosen said his order to preserve the possible evidence says nothing about whether any of it is admissible in the case.

SkyTel, the city’s paging company, is not a party to the federal lawsuit.
“It is debatable whether it lies within the court’s jurisdictional power to order this non-party to preserve evidence,” Rosen said in the order. However, SkyTel has indicated a willingness to comply with the court’s orders and Rosen said he presumes SkyTel will comply voluntarily.

“It bears emphasis, moreover, that to the extent the City of Detroit has any degree of control over any pertinent materials in SkyTel’s custody,” it has “an obligation under the present order not to exercise this control in a manner that might lead to the destruction, loss, or concealment of any materials within the scope of this order,” Rosen said.

Former Detroit homicide Lt. Alvin Bowman, who worked on the Greene case, said in an affidavit filed in the case Friday he suspected that Greene was killed by a Detroit police officer.

Bully-Cummings denounced Bowman’s statement at a news conference Tuesday as reprehensible, saying Bowman had no evidence to back up his claim and Detroit police continue to vigorously investigate Greene’s murder.


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