Anatomy of a Public Corruption Case

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Photo 1: Panelists speak to Cooley students during a panel discussion on Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial. Pictured are (l-r): Kilpatrick's defense attorneys, James Thomas and Michael Naughton; and U.S. attorneys, Michael Bullotta and Mark Chutkow.

Photo 2: Pictured (l-r) are U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta, Cooley Professor Alan Gershel, Cooley student and Criminal Law Society President Laura DeSanto, Defense Attorneys Michael Naughton and James Thomas, U.S. Attorney Mark Chutkow, Cooley Acting Associate Dean Lisa Halushka, and Cooley student and Criminal Law Society Secretary Elena Djordjeski. 

Cooley Law students learn what went into prosecuting and defending Kilpatrick

On Nov. 13, Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Criminal Law Society hosted an interactive panel discussion of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal corruption trial. The presentation, “Anatomy of a Public Corruption Case,” featured panelists from the U.S. Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, and members of Kilpatrick’s defense team. Panelists included Assistant U.S. attorneys Mark Chutkow and Michael Bullotta, and defense attorneys James Thomas and Michael Naughton. Cooley Professor Alan Gershel moderated the discussion.

“This is an example of Cooley Law School’s commitment to giving our students a practical legal education by exposing them to major cases and the lawyers involved,” said Lisa Halushka, acting associate dean at Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. “We are privileged to have faculty members willing to put together panel discussions on tough issues, like Alan Gershel, who served 30 years in the U.S. Attorney’s office.”

During the discussion, the panelists spoke about various aspects of the investigation, the pre-trial and the trial. The panelists shared how they work through high-profile cases and the relationships between investigators, prosecutors and members of the defense team. Individuals in attendance also learned how the attorneys managed the pre-trial investigation phase and the media throughout the whole process. 

“With such a prominent case, and so polarizing a defendant, the Kilpatrick case faced intense media and public scrutiny,” said Gershel. “The panel gave Cooley’s students an in-depth look at the case and methods used and intricacies involved. Under these circumstances, it is important that all parties perform complete and thorough research, conduct themselves by the letter of the law, and use creative strategies.”

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