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Published: Thursday, 7/3/2008

Court keeps judge on Kilpatrick case


DETROIT - A Michigan Court of Appeals ruling yesterday not to disqualify Judge Ronald Giles and the entire 36th District Court bench from hearing the criminal case against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick may be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office will evaluate the appeals court decision to uphold a lower court's ruling on Judge Giles' refusal to remove himself and his colleagues from the case, Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.

A Wayne County Circuit Court judge last month upheld Judge Giles' ruling.

Ms. Worthy has said close ties exist between Mr. Kilpatrick and some 36th District Court judges.

"We respect the Court of Appeals and while this is not surprising it is extremely disappointing," she said yesterday. "If you cannot recuse a judge on these facts, then you cannot ever recuse a judge.

"This should be of extreme concern to the entire legal community in the state of Michigan, both prosecution and defense. Clearly a rule change is needed."

Mr. Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, face a Sept. 22 preliminary examination before Judge Giles on perjury and other charges.

They are accused of lying about a romantic relationship during a whistle-blowers' trial and about their roles in the firing of a Detroit police official. They deny the charges.

Excerpts of sexually explicit text messages on Ms. Beatty's city-issued pager have contradicted their testimony.

One of Mr. Kilpatrick's lawyers in the criminal case questioned Ms. Worthy's motives in pursuing the disqualifications.

"Four different judges have upheld the character and integrity of 36th District Court, so one would think the prosecutor would abandon her reckless attempts to judge-shop," attorney James Thomas said.

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