M. L. Elrick: Raucous days ahead in Kilpatrick trial?

M. L. Elrick: Raucous days ahead in Kilpatrick trial?

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Kwame Kilpatrick (Credit: WJBK) Kwame Kilpatrick (Credit: WJBK)

For all the tedium of jury selection, the questions the defense attorneys are asking suggest that, once the trial gets under way, some raucous days lie ahead.

Exhibit A is the defense attorneys' repeated inquiries as to whether jurors will be offended by racial language. It became clear today that some of the defendants use slurs about both minorities and white folk. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the salty sobriquets were captured on wiretapped conversations that will be played in court later this fall. And there was a hint that some of the slurs may come from early in Kwame Kilpatrick's first term as mayor, which spanned 2002 to 2006, and involve contracts given to mainly white firms.

Exhibit B is the defense attorneys' queries about whether potential jurors can make a distinction between immoral and unethical behavior and illegal behavior.  Call it the "My Client Might Not Be A RIghteous Man, But That Don't Make Him Guilty" defense.

While I did feel a slight twinge being in a federal building on 9/11, I was more struck by the flashback to the first 9/11 I spent with Kwame Kilpatrick.

It was 9/11/2001, which was both the day of the terrorist attacks and Detroit's primary election day. Kilpatrick surged past then-City Council President Gil Hill to become the favorite in the race to replace retiring Mayor Dennis Archer. I covered his celebration at the Hotel St. Regis in the New Center for the Detroit Free Press. The gathering was subdued, due to the gravity of the morning attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

In much the same way many people never imagined that terrorists would mount such a diabolical attack, few could have imagined that, 11 years later, the young man who held so much promise would be preparing for a trial on public corruption charges that could send him away for up to 20 years.

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