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Legal Ethics

Hot Doc Found at Law Firm in $8.4M Detroit Settlement Flap

Posted Apr 28, 2008 5:50 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A critical legal document that led almost instantaneously to an $8.4 million city settlement of two Detroit police whistle-blower cases reportedly has been found on a plaintiffs lawyer's computer and is to be discussed tomorrow in court.

Now at issue in an ongoing controversy over the handling of the settlement, which has put lawyers from all sides on the hot seat, the 18-page legal memorandum by plaintiffs lawyer Mike Stefani triggered an immediate settlement, reports the Detroit Free Press. That's because it contained quotations from several text messages between the city mayor and his former chief of staff that called the truthfulness of court testimony into question (and allegedly revealed that the two may have been having an affair), according to the newspaper.

Stefani reportedly had erased the document, but a forensic technician resurrected it from his computer.

Bill Goodman, a lawyer retained to represent Detroit City Council, whose members contend they were kept in the dark about the real reasons for the settlement when it was made, said he couldn't specifically discuss the contents of the newly found document.

But "I think it is enlightening,” he says. "It explains why they settled this case within a matter of an hour and a half. I think it is as Mr. Stefani described it … . It clearly discloses that there may have been a discrepancy between the text messages and the sworn testimony."

Earlier coverage:

Detroit Free Press: "E-mails show mayor's side feared leak of deal"

ABAJournal.com: "Musical Hot Seats in Detroit, as Lawyers Testify About $8.4M Settlement"

ABAJournal.com: "Sex, Lies and Text Messages: Side Deal a Secret in $8.4M Pact, Detroit Lawyer Says"

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