Robert Snell

Robert Snell

Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at or (313) 222-2028.

Kilpatrick family turns out for closing arguments

A sick juror brought a premature end to closing arguments Tuesday in the City Hall corruption trial. Bernard Kilpatrick’s lawyer John Shea was interrupted Tuesday afternoon after a juror got sick and had to leave the courtroom. Earlier Tuesday, Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer delivered a two-hour-long closing argument in front of a packed courtroom, which included … Continue Reading →

Defense puts cash on display in closing arguments in Kilpatrick trial

In their closing arguments, prosecutors painted Kwame Kilpatrick and contractor pal Bobby Ferguson¬† as crooked princes of the city and the former Detroit mayor’s father, Bernard, as the middleman feeding off corrupt city contracts. Prosecutors kicked off closing arguments Monday, which should span three days, capping a trial that started in September and featured testimony … Continue Reading →

Judge rejects bids for acquittals in Kilpatrick case

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds rejected requests today that she acquit Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and pal Bobby Ferguson on various criminal charges. The three defendants in the City Hall corruption trial lost requests related to several charges, including tax, extortion and mail/wire fraud. During the 10 a.m. hearing, Edmunds also finalized jury instructions. … Continue Reading →

Day 68: Kilpatrick avoids witness stand before defense rests

Jurors heard from the final defense witnesses today in the five-month-old Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial. Kilpatrick, his father Bernard and Bobby Ferguson declined to testify and their defense teams rested, setting the stage for closing arguments Monday. Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson called 11 witnesses during a defense phase that lasted four days. The ex-mayor’s … Continue Reading →

Day 67: Jurors sent home early amid witness issues

Jurors were sent home early Tuesday after several issues emerged that prevented defense witnesses from testifying in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial. Kilpatrick’s defense team was expected to try to rebound from a rocky experience involving a tax expert and questions about the Kilpatrick Civic Fund. The defense team’s tax expert Gary Leeman was expected … Continue Reading →

Day 66: Former councilwoman calls government witnesses liars

Former City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail labeled the government’s star witness a liar along with another witness who allegedly delivered bra-stuffed kickbacks to Kwame Kilpatrick. McPhail spent an hour on the witness stand as Kilpatrick’s lawyer tried to cast doubt on testimony from star witness Derrick Miller and former Kilpatrick fundraiser Emma Bell. U.S. District Judge … Continue Reading →

Day 65: Kilpatrick defense reloads after significant 'whoops'

Kwame Kilpatrick’s nonprofit group spent money legitimately and wasn’t the ex-mayor’s personal piggy bank, according to testimony Friday. The former mayor’s defense team Friday attacked slush fund allegations and financial records indicating Kilpatrick had more than $500,000 in his bank accounts beyond his mayoral salary. Kilpatrick’s defense team tried to show a long pattern of … Continue Reading →

Day 64: Judge refuses to acquit before start of defense phase

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds on Thursday refused to acquit former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father and contractor Bobby Ferguson after prosecutors rested their case. Prosecutors rested following a 13-week case and after calling approximately 80 witnesses in the one of the country’s largest public corruption cases in 30 years. Kilpatrick’s lawyer promptly launched … Continue Reading →

Day 63: Feds end in flurry of Kilpatrick text messages

Jurors saw dozens of text messages Tuesday portraying Kwame Kilpatrick allegedly scheming to steer lucrative city contracts to pal Bobby Ferguson. Prosecutors revealed the text messages in a bid to explain how Ferguson landed almost $125 million in city revenue during Kilpatrick’s tenure as mayor. The flurry of text messages and a series of battles … Continue Reading →

Day 62: Defense phase approaches in Kilpatrick case

Federal prosecutors built toward a powerful finish Monday in the City Hall corruption trial, showing jurors dramatic photos of Bobby Ferguson’s hidden safes stuffed with cash and checks. The photos illustrated the government’s theory about what happened to some of the $84 million Ferguson allegedly pocketed as a result of tainted city deals awarded during … Continue Reading →