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Judge won't scrap removal hearing

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's chances of avoiding a state hearing that could cost him his job diminished by the hour Tuesday as a judge ruled against scrapping the proceedings and an appeals court responded to the mayor's arguments with skepticism.

Making matters worse, Kilpatrick's lawyer showed up late for the appellate hearing, entering the courtroom as a lawyer for Gov. Jennifer Granholm was arguing that the state constitution gives her the power to remove elected officials for misconduct.

At the Detroit City Council's request, Granholm is to convene a hearing today on whether Kilpatrick, a fellow Democrat, misled members when he settled lawsuits with former police officers for $8.4million. Kilpatrick separately is charged with 10 felonies, including perjury and assault, and he would lose a powerful bargaining chip with prosecutors if he is removed from office.

Kilpatrick claims Granholm is biased and won't be fair, mostly because she tried to broker a settlement in his criminal case in May. But after hearing arguments Friday, Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Ziolkowski returned to court Tuesday and said he wouldn't interfere with the hearing.

“Holding a public office is not a public right and not subject to due process rights,” the judge said, rejecting a claim that Kilpatrick's right to “just and fair treatment” would be violated.

Kilpatrick's attorney James Thomas appealed, saying outside court, “The way this is set up, the governor has free rein to be the judge, jury and executioner.”

The City Council says that when it approved the $8.4 million settlement, it didn't know the deal covered up sexually charged text messages between the mayor and his top aide, Christine Beatty.

Those text messages are key in criminal charges, including perjury, against Kilpatrick and Beatty, both of whom testified in the police officers' lawsuit that they had not had an affair. In a separate case, Kilpatrick is charged with assault in a confrontation with investigators who were attempting to serve a subpoena on a friend of the mayor in connection with the perjury case.

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