Kilpatrick ordered to testify about his emails

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could help a federal judge decide whether to sanction the city for destroying or losing his computer, and consequently destroying e-mails that could be relevant to lawsuits.

U.S. Magistrate R. Steven Whalen ordered Kilpatrick on Wednesday to testify at a hearing Monday about his missing computer and whether he stored any e-mails on it.

“I think Mr. Kilpatrick’s testimony is necessary,” said Whalen, who is trying to determine whether the city spoiled evidence crucial to lawsuits.

Kilpatrick will be scrutinized over an affidavit he filed last month in which he said he didn’t know how to store or archive e-mails, and that he gave his computer to his successor, then-City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr., when Kilpatrick resigned from office in 2008.

But Cockrel said: “I never saw it.”

And city officials say they don’t know where it is.

Should it ever turn up, a forensic expert could likely dig up some valuable evidence from it, argued attorney Norman Yatooma, who believes the city intentionally destroyed the computer and e-mails.

“His computer’s got legs,” Yatooma said.

Yatooma is representing the family of exotic dancer Tamara Greene, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in April 2003, about six months after she supposedly danced at a rumored party at the mayoral Manoogian Mansion. The Greene family is suing the city and Kilpatrick, saying they intentionally botched her murder investigation to prevent her killer from being caught.

Kilpatrick and the city have denied a cover-up and are seeking to have the case dismissed.

At issue in the Greene lawsuit is a year’s worth of e-mails — from August 2002 to June 2003.

Terrance Sims, who oversees the city’s e-mail system, testified Wednesday that Kilpatrick’s deleted e-mails are not retrievable because the city’s servers automatically purge them after seven days. He also testified that the city does not monitor or archive any e-mails because “we just don’t have the resources or the funding.”

Sims did note, however, that a recent search of Kilpatrick’s inbox did unearth several e-mails — the oldest dating to 2006 — but nothing from the dates that Yatooma requested. He said the search, conducted last month, marked the first time that he has ever been asked by city officials to look for Kilpatrick e-mails.

Kilpatrick will testify about his e-mails at a 9 a.m. hearing Monday in federal court, along with a forensic computer expert.

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