Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beatty would testify against Detroit Mayor if given immunity.

The lawyer for former mayoral aide and paramour Christine Beatty said today that if prosecutors want her to testify against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, they have the power to make that happen.

All they have to do is give her immunity if they think she can help them,” said Mayer Morganroth, Beatty’s defense lawyer. “You cannot turn down immunity. They know how to do it.”

Today’s remarks are the strongest to date by Morganroth about his client’s willingness to testify against her former boss, and comes in a week in which rumors are swirling about whether the mayor is seeking a deal to leave office in return for the resolution of his myriad legal problems.

Morganroth said prosecutors have the right to get a court order, without his agreement, granting Beatty immunity from prosecution in the text message scandal, and thereby forcing her to testify.

“It makes no difference whether I agree to it or not,” he said. “She would no longer have Fifth Amendment rights.”

One legal expert said Morganroth is correct, but such a maneuver by prosecutors is very rare.

David Moran, a University of Michigan law professor and expert on criminal law, said it’s much more common for prosecutors to cut plea deals with codefendants in criminal cases. For example, a codefendant would agree to testify against another with the agreement that charges would be dismissed or reduced.

“If immunity were just given to Ms. Beatty, she could be required to testify,” Moran said. “But what she said couldn’t be used against her and anything the prosecutors learned from her testimony could not be used. If they learned about a new witness from her, they couldn’t use that witness.”

Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, declined comment on Morganroth’s statements.

Morganroth said he has had no plea deal discussions with Worthy’s office.

“I don’t ask for deals,” he said. “They know how to offer a deal if they want. I would always listen but that doesn’t mean I would agree to anything.”

Morganroth again raised the issue of immunity: “All they have to do is go and do what I said earlier.”

Kilpatrick and Beatty, his former chief of staff, face felony perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges after the Free Press broke the text message scandal in January. The Free Press published excerpts of text messages between the pair sent on their city-issued paging devices, which revealed they lied at a police whistle-blower trial last summer when they testified they were not romantically involved, and sought to mislead jurors about the firing of one of the cops.

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