The Work

February 4, 2009 3:41 PM

Kwame Kilpatrick, Out of Jail and Into the Arms of Willie Gary

Posted by Brian Baxter

Disgraced former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick seems to be trying to trump Joe Francis when it comes to hiring new lawyers. Kilpatrick emerged from jail on the arm of prominent plaintiffs lawyer Willie Gary, reports sibling publication The National Law Journal.

Kilpatrick was released early Tuesday after spending 99 days behind bars for his role in a text-messaging scandal that saw him forced from office and slapped with a $1 million fine. (Kilpatrick also lost his law license.)

The former Motor City mayor had relied on a high-profile team of lawyers to fight charges that he lied under oath about an affair with a former aide during two police whistle-blower suits against the city that later settled for $8.4 million.

At various times Kilpatrick turned to James Parkman III of Alabama's Parkman Adams & White, Plunkett Cooney of counsel James Thomas, Winston & Strawn star litigator Dan Webb, Todd Flood from Royal Oak, Mich.-based Flood Lanctot & Connor, and Detroit solo practitioners Juan Mateo, Jr., and Gerald Evelyn.

Parkman left the posse of lawyers in mid-August, shortly before Kilpatrick agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, for which he received an 120-day jail sentence that was later shortened because of good behavior.

Now Gary's Stuart, Fla.-based firm Gary, Williams, Parenti, Finney, Lewis, McManus, Watson & Sperando has been retained to investigate the release of the sordid text messages that first got Kilpatrick in hot water with law enforcement officials.

"We just want to make sure--from A to Z--that the steps were followed...and the process was not violated," Gary told the NLJ. The flashy litigator, whose bold claims we have covered in this space before, said he wasn't planning on filing a civil suit.

But if there's one thing that Willie Gary does, it's file suits, not conduct investigations.

Represented by Herschel Fink of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, the Detroit Free Press has been locked in litigation to get more of the text messages between Kilpatrick and former chief-of-staff/lover Christine Beatty released.

Plunkett Cooney's Thomas, now Kilpatrick's main criminal defense lawyer, has argued in the past that the messages were privileged and contained sensitive information about city affairs.

A state court is supposed to render a decision in that dispute sometime in early March.

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