DETROIT — An attorney who has represented Kwame Kilpatrick through years of scandal was dismissed Thursday after the former Detroit mayor said their relationship had deteriorated long before a six-month corruption trial that ended with a conviction in March.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds granted the request, although she made clear that James Thomas had done an excellent job during a grueling trial. He was appointed at taxpayer expense.
"You've had extremely effective assistance of counsel. ... He wasn't chosen at random," Edmunds said.
But Kilpatrick said their communication has been especially poor since he was sent to a federal prison in Milan, Michigan, to await his sentence. He was convicted of racketeering, fraud and tax crimes in a scheme to enrich himself while in office, from 2002 until he resigned in 2008.
"What you saw in court was Mr. Thomas doing his job," Kilpatrick said of the trial.
He said Thomas isn't his attorney "for life."
Thomas, an admired lawyer in Detroit, had been at Kilpatrick's side long before the federal case. He represented him in 2008 in state court in a sex-and-text scandal that forced Kilpatrick out of office.
Thomas said it was appropriate for him to step aside. He said he has "affection" for Kilpatrick, even if "I don't agree with him."
Harold Gurewitz will be Kilpatrick's new attorney during the post-trial and sentencing phase of the case. No sentencing date has been set.
It was Kilpatrick's first appearance in public since marshals transported him to Milan to await his sentence. He opened by thanking the judge for cutting through red tape and getting him a medical exam.
Kilpatrick said he needs surgery to repair a torn tendon and other knee injuries. He said he's "terrified" by the thought of the procedure and needs a donated tendon. He didn't elaborate.
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