Feds try to protect Kilpatrick witnesses from defense attacks

Kwame Kilpatrick, right, and his lawyers head to court Oct. 10. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Prosecutors moved Sunday to limit potential damage from flip-flopping government witnesses during the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial.

The government asked U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds to limit defense lawyers from using agent interview notes to discredit witnesses. The notes were written by agents following witness interviews and have been turned over to defense lawyers.

Defense lawyers have been using the notes and reports to impeach the government’s witnesses during cross examination by pointing out allegedly inconsistent prior statements, according to court records.

It is improper to read the reports verbatim in front of the jury, prosecutors argued in a filing Sunday.

“Defense counsel therefore should be prohibited from using these reports to impeach witnesses who allegedly have made prior inconsistent statements, and introducing their contents or otherwise publishing them to the jury,” prosecutors wrote.

The move comes after government witness Tom Hardiman, who allegedly was extorted by Bobby Ferguson, repeatedly failed to remember seemingly basic details of his business and personal life.

John Shea, a lawyer for Bernard Kilpatrick, urged the judge Sunday to deny the government’s request.

Shea said it is standard practice for defense lawyers to use interview notes and reports to impeach witnesses.

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