Former Genesee County judge Valdemar L. Washington turns up as figure in Kwame Kilpatrick case
It's the talk of the political world in Michigan, and a former Genesee County Circuit Court judge has played a role in it, albeit a minor one.
Valdemar L. Washington, who served on the circuit bench for about 10 years before retiring in 1995, helped broker a deal between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and several police officers who claimed they were retaliated against because of their roles in a probe of the mayor's security team.
The legal settlement is at the center of the scandal that threatens to topple Kilpatrick from office.
Washington, now a deputy state treasurer, said he can't talk about confidential aspects of the negotiations, even though he's drawn media attention because of his role.
Washington still lives in Flint and operates a private facilitation service used by attorneys to resolve cases out of court.
Washington said he was asked last year to help the parties try to settle a Whistleblower's lawsuit by former Detroit officers Gary Brown and Harold Neithrope. But the parties were too far apart, and the case went to trial, ending with a jury verdict in favor of the officers.
After the trial, Washington was called in to help mediate the issue of attorney fees.
During those talks, the mayor agreed to drop a planned appeal and settle the cases involving Brown and Neithrope, along with a separate Whistleblower's suit by a former mayoral bodyguard.
As part of the $8.4-million settlement, Kilpatrick approved a cover-up of scandalous text messages between himself and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty, according to published reports.
Media reports on the case have included references to Washington in his role as facilitator.
Recently unsealed documents indicate that during the settlement talks, Washington was asked to deliver a sealed envelope from the plaintiffs' lawyer to an attorney for the mayor, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.
The contents of the envelope were not revealed. But a short time later, the mayor agreed to settle the two cases, the newspaper said.
All parties were required to sign confidentiality agreements as part of the settlement, according to the newspaper.
Washington said he acted as he would in any other case. As a facilitator, his job is to talk with the parties and convey information, such as settlement offers, he said.
"I'm just there to assist them in reaching a point of agreement," he said.
"I worked with this plaintiff's law firm and the city of Detroit before on a very similar kind of case, and through negotiations we were able to resolve the entire case," he said.