DETROIT -- A Wayne County judge ordered Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick released from jail Friday -- but only on tough new bond provisions.
And Kilpatrick will remain behind bars at least until he can be arraigned on charges in his new legal challenge: felony charges announced Friday by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox in a shoving incident involving a Wayne County sheriff's detective. Court officials and Kilpatrick's legal team were working out arrangements for arraignment on those charges later Friday.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Thomas Jackson ruled that Kilpatrick could go free after spending Thursday night in jail -- but only after posting a $50,000 cash bond. He also is barred from any travel outside the state, and must wear an electronic tether.
Before setting the mayor free, Jackson harshly criticized Kilpatrick for a pattern of behavior that defied a lower court. Kilpatrick's behavior seemed "designed almost to defy the court's orders," Jackson said during more than an hour of arguments on whether the mayor, facing escalating calls for his resignation, should be set free on bond after spending Thursday night in the Wayne County Jail.
DETROIT -- The Wayne Circuit Court judge who released Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from custody Friday revealed from the bench that supporters of the mayor tried to make what he called "inappropriate" contact with him before the hearing.
Judge Thomas E. Jackson complained about telephone calls on Thursday from two well-known local attorneys. Jackson didn't name his callers, but his descriptions left little doubt he was calling out one of the mayor's lawyers, Sharon McPhail, and Conrad Mallett, the head of the mayor's legal defense fund.
Jackson said one caller was a female attorney and former council member. The other was a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and leader of the mayor's legal defense fund. Jackson said he refused to take either call and added he has no idea of the caller's "agendas."
"I assumed they weren't calling to wish me a happy day," Jackson said in court.
Attempts to reach Mallett, president of Sinai-Grace Hospital, were unsuccessful Friday.
McPhail, who serves as Kilpatrick's city-paid general counsel, said Friday that she wasn't calling Jackson in an attempt to influence him.
"You couldn't do that with Tommy Jackson anyway," McPhail said. "I would never call someone up and ask them, would you please decide something my way. That would be crazy. And I don't appreciate the inference that I have done something improper. That's improper."
Curt Benson, a Cooley School of Law professor, called the telephone calls "grossly inappropriate" and said Jackson was correct in refusing to take the calls, then disclosing the attempts to reach him. The ethical rules under which all lawyers are supposed to operate prohibit one-sided communication, called "ex parte" contact, with a judge in a case in which the lawyer has an interest.
"By disclosing these attempts to reach him in court, Jackson sent a message to the entire bar (society of lawyers) that, 'I won't tolerate this,' " Benson said.
McPhail said she asked Jackson's law clerk on Thursday if it would be appropriate to talk with the judge about a "procedural issue." McPhail declined to say more about the topic of her call because it is a subject of private conversation with her client, Kilpatrick.
"I wanted to talk to him (Jackson) and asked if it would be all right," McPhail said. "His clerk said she didn't think so, but she would get back to me and never did. I never spoke with him (Jackson)."
Margaret Raben, president of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, said any lawyer, especially a former Supreme Court justice, knows it is wrong to contact the sitting judge in a case.
"That is simply flat-out inappropriate. Presumably, they would be asking the judge to do something," Raben said. "Mayor Kilpatrick has a billion dollars worth of legal help. If you are a friend or family of the mayor and you have a question, you don't call the judge, you call Jim Thomas (one of Kilpatrick's lawyers)."
It isn't the first time the mayor or his staffers have inserted themselves into the legal process. Before Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Kilpatrick in March, the mayor, who rarely speaks with Worthy, called to say he wasn't backing anyone in the prosecutor's race. Worthy is running for re-election unopposed, but several opponents had been rumored to be preparing to enter the race.
McPhail has represented Kilpatrick in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's review of the City Council's request to use her powers to remove him from office. Granholm has determined there is enough evidence to hold a hearing Sept. 3 in the state office building in the New Center area.