Kwame Kilpatrick Trial | Stone-faced juror's facade cracking

Kilpatrick jury lets guard down, cracks a few smiles this week

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By M.L. Elrick
FOX 2 News Investigative Reporter

DETROIT (WJBK) - It figures.

One day after Todd Flood, a former Wayne County prosecutor turned defense attorney turned legal expert du jour, told me how impressed he was with how seriously the jury in Kilpatrick & Co. trial seemed to be taking their duty, they turned into a bunch of giggle pusses on Thursday.

It was particularly surprising because I, too, have been struck by how diligent the jurors appear to be. They seldom betray an emotion. They studiously take notes on the lined pages with photos of the witnesses that they tuck into their three-ring binders. And on the rare occasion when they make eye contact with you, they look away quickly.

Of course, that last reaction could have something to do with the fact I rarely wear pants to court.

(Just kidding. EVERYONE in the media is dressed appropriately, though I suspect Mike Wilkinson of the Detroit News goes commando sometimes. But don't judge him too harshly. He went to U-M and lives in Toledo, so he's suffered enough.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. The stone-faced jurors.

It took more than a month in court, but their facade finally started to crack when water department official Daniel Edwards took the stand earlier this week.

Edwards elicited smiles and a couple laughs during his two days on the stand with his quirky asides and embellishments like "No question is a stupid question," which he told pugnacious defense attorney Mike Rataj after he dismissed one of his own questions.

Rataj set jurors off Thursday when he struggled -- and failed -- to say "colloquialisms," before giving up with a "you know what I mean!" while cross-examining EPA agent Carol Paszkiewicz on the possibility that the government misinterpreted Bobby Ferguson's text messages.

Moments later, Judge Nancy "No Nonsense" Edmunds REALLY cracked the courtroom up when she admonished Rataj and Paszkiewicz for speaking over each other "colloquially."

Paszkiewicz garnered a few laughs herself as defense attorneys offered her a variety of names for the role Jim Stapleton played in trying to help a contractor get city business.

After Paszkiewicz and her inquisitor bandied about "liaison," "advocate" and "lobbyist," she tossed out "consultant," raising an eyebrow and turning to Bernard Kilpatrick and his attorney, John Shea, who for weeks have maintained that consultants are a normal and natural part of the political process. The elder Kilpatrick and Shea broke into grins, savoring the irony.

But the biggest laugh came when one of the jurors, who has repeatedly asked the lawyers to increase the size of exhibits displayed on a view screen, said "Now that's PERFECT!" after an errant click of the mouse resulted in a small corner of a document filling the screen with only a few giant letters.

As the giggles and guffaws filled the courtroom, even Edmunds couldn't contain herself, adding: "It's only Thursday!"

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