Ferguson lawyer, judge clash in court

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds

Defense lawyer Michael Rataj, known for his intensity and aggressive questions, clashed with the federal judge overseeing the City Hall corruption case.

Bobby Ferguson’s lawyer tried several times to question contractor Tony Soave about behind-the-scenes moves related to a water department contract.

Soave couldn’t recall details and U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds repeatedly blocked the line of questioning after prosecutors objected.

Frustrated, Rataj demanded a private chat with the judge and fellow attorneys.

“Let’s have a sidebar!” Rataj said, walking to the side of the judge’s bench.

She stopped him.

“Do you get to call the sidebar?” Edmunds said.

Rataj froze.

Then, Edmunds called a sidebar.

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