Lawyer wants default judgment against Detroit in Greene case

Detroit — The family of a slain exotic dancer who allegedly danced at a rumored Manoogian Mansion party wants a default judgment issued against the city for intentionally throwing away ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s computer.

The request, filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alternatively asks a federal judge to approve a comprehensive search of the city’s computer servers and backup equipment to find deleted e-mails and other data — and have the city cover the expense. The city also should pay a hefty fine for dumping the computers of Kilpatrick and his former mistress and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty in February 2008 — seven months before Kilpatrick was forced from office.

Computer e-mails and other documents, if found, could prove far more damaging than the steamy, but brief, text messages that derailed Kilpatrick’s career and helped send him to prison, wrote lawyer Norman Yatooma, who represents the family of Tamara “Strawberry” Greene.

The recovered data could prove Kilpatrick and the city conspired to block an investigation into Greene’s drive-by shooting death in April 2003, several months after she was linked to the rumored party at the mayor’s mansion in fall 2002.

“If the text messages brought down the king, the e-mails would have brought down the kingdom,” Yatooma wrote.
“Imagine the damage that Kilpatrick and his upper echelon could have done with the benefit of a keyboard and unlimited capacity for their criminal correspondence.”

He argued the computers and data should have been preserved considering there were several lawsuits against Kilpatrick.
The requests were filed ahead of a deadline today by which Yatooma must respond to requests by the city and Kilpatrick for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by the woman’s family. Greene’s family filed a lawsuit five years ago claiming a Detroit police investigation into Greene’s drive-by shooting death in April 2003 was quashed by authorities.

City lawyer John Schapka has two weeks to respond to Yatooma’s requests. U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen then will decide whether to issue sanctions against the city for destroying the computers.

Whalen said last month he was “troubled” that the computer was thrown away.

“From city e-mails, to police careers, to memories of deceased loved ones, (Kilpatrick and the city) have destroyed everything in their paths,” Yatooma wrote. “Like the underlying investigation into Tamara Greene’s murder, the defendants simply terminated or obstructed whatever investigation they did not like. Throughout the murder investigation, defendants destroyed files and intimidated witnesses. Nothing has changed in this litigation.”

The destruction of Kilpatrick and Beatty’s computers clashes with how the city reacted when former Deputy Police Chief Gary Brown was removed from his job. The city backed up all of Brown’s computer data.

“It is outrageous for defendants to suggest here … the moment they foresee that their remaining days in office are numbered, then their own computers’ data and e-mails must somehow be deleted and destroyed,” Yatooma wrote.

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