Lawyer wants Kilpatrick in court over missing city computer

Attorney Norman Yatooma wants to question ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in court next week about the whereabouts of his computer, whose disappearance has put the city of Detroit in the legal hot seat.

A federal magistrate judge currently is considering sanctioning the city for destroying or losing Kilpatrick’s computer and, consequently, destroying e-mails that could be relevant to lawsuits. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Kilpatrick said in an affidavit last week that he gave the computer to Ken Cockrel Jr., his successor as mayor, when he resigned from office in 2008. But Cockrel said “I never saw it.” Yatooma says he wants to get to the bottom of the issue, and cross examine both Kilpatrick and Cockrel at a hearing next Monday.

“God help me, we’re going to get to the bottom of all this,” said Yatooma, who believes that Kilpatrick’s computer and e-mails were intentionally destroyed. He expects that Kilpatrick will be released from prison so that he can question him in court on the issue. Kilpatrick is currently in prison on a probation violation stemming from the text message scandal. “I think the judge will let us talk to him. He signed an affidavit. He’s made his testimony relevant,” Yatooma said.

Yatooma is representing the family of slain exotic dancer Tamara Greene, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in April 2003, six months after she supposedly danced at a rumored by never-proven party a 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.

Yatooma, meanwhile, has compiled a list of witnesses he hopes to cross-examine about Kilpatrick’s missing computer and emails. Among those he wants to question: Cockrel Jr., Detroit Law Department Director Kristen Crittendon, Terrence Sims, who oversees the city’s computer operations, Gary Brown, whose police whistle-blower lawsuit triggered the text message scandal that led to Kilpatrick’s downfall; former police chief Ella Bully-Cummings and District Court Judge Ruth Carter.

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