Kilpatrick’s computer thrown out; e-mails sought in stripper case lost
A federal judge said Tuesday he is “troubled” that ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s computer was thrown away seven months before he resigned in 2008, a move that thwarts an ongoing attempt to recover e-mails between the former mayor, his mistress and other city officials.
The admission came during a routine hearing in U.S. District Court in a lawsuit involving the city and the family of Tamara “Strawberry” Greene, who allegedly performed at a rumored Manoogian Mansion party in 2002.
City attorney John Schapka said computers belonging to Kilpatrick and his former mistress, then-Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, were thrown away and replaced in February 2008 — even though the Greene suit and other cases were pending.
“I’m highly troubled by that,” U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen said. “The question is: What do we do?”
Whalen might issue sanctions against the city. But before he decides, he wants the Greene family lawyer, Gary Hermanson, to submit a brief within 14 days addressing the handling of evidence.
The city then would have two weeks to respond.
“We’re hoping to get to the bottom of this,” Hermanson said.
It was unclear why the computers in the mayor’s office — including the hard drives — were discarded and replaced. Schapka made an offhand reference to the replacement but declined comment after the hearing.
Schapka also said deleted e-mails cannot be retrieved from the city’s computer servers. The servers electronically shred deleted items after a short time and the city does not have hardware or software to permit recovery, Schapka said.
Greene’s family filed a lawsuit in 2005 claiming a Detroit police investigation into Greene’s drive-by shooting death in April 2003 was quashed by authorities for political reasons.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen has extended deadlines to Nov. 10 for the family’s lawyers to file responses to requests for summary judgment and dismissal of the lawsuit from its targets — the city and Kilpatrick.