DETROIT — From behind bars, ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is fighting to remain a lawyer.
One of Kilpatrick’s attorneys filed papers Monday with the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, asking it to set aside a judge’s order revoking Kilpatrick’s law license.
A judge ordered Kilpatrick’s law license to be revoked last month when he sentenced the former Motown mayor to 120 days in jail for lying about an affair at a police whistle-blower trial that cost the city $8.4 million. Kilpatrick, whose perjured testimony was revealed in text messages, also was ordered to pay $1 million in restitution to the city of Detroit.
But attorney Philip Thomas, one of Kilpatrick’s lawyers, argued that the judge had no legal grounds to revoke Kilpatrick’s law license, which was suspended automatically when he pleaded guilty to felonies in September.
In papers filed with the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board late Monday afternoon, Thomas of the Law Offices of Philip Thomas in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., argued that the judge had no authority to revoke Kilpatrick’s law license. Moreover, he argued that Kilpatrick never consented to the revocation order, but rather signed it “under objection.”
“It is critical to note that the terms of the plea agreement did not provide for disbarment, or define in anyway the meaning of the term “surrender’ of his law license,” Thomas wrote to the board.
Thomas also argued that the attorney disciplinary board is the only entity legally authorized to impose discipline against Michigan attorneys. “No other entity in Michigan, including trial courts, has such authority,” Thomas wrote. “The trial court did not have the requisite authority to take action resulting in [Kilpatrick's] disbarment.”
Thomas, meanwhile, has asked the discipline board to select a panel to review Kilpatrick’s perjury case and determine what level of discipline should be imposed.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, whose office negotiated the plea agreement with Kilpatrick, was unavailable for comment.
Editor’s note: Tresa Baldas’ husband, M.L. Elrick, reported on the text messages for the Detroit Free Press.