James ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s attorney says defense is hampered by a judge who lets federal prosecutors ignore rules
The attorney for James “Whitey” Bulger today slammed a federal judge for not giving the defendant enough taxpayer financed resources to properly organize hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, photographs, and wiretaps that make up the evidence against the former South Boston crime boss accused of participating in 19 murders.
Bulger’s lead attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., complained about rulings by Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler and also accused prosecutors in US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office of deliberately violating rules in a way that is undercutting Bulger’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
Carney asked that Bulger’s trial be pushed back a full year to Nov. 4, 2013, instead of its currently scheduled start date of March 4.
“The defendant is seeking a fair trial date where his counsel has adequate time to prepare,’’ Carney wrote in the 10-page motion asking for a trial delay for the second time. “A presumption of guilt is not shared by the defense nor is it shared by the Constitution of the United States of America.’’
Carney also rejected the suggestion by federal prosecutors that Bulger may die before the trial begins if further delays are granted. Carney pointed to comments made by Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly at a sidebar conference in US District Court in Boston on Sept. 7.
“The defendant is old. The witnesses are old,’’ said Kelly, who also noted that Bulger’s former girlfriend, Teresa Stanley, died this year. “Frankly, the prosecutors are getting old.’’
But Carney said Bulger is ready to take the stand at his trial and is not deliberately slowing down the pre-trial process.
“The government, who has intercepted his mail, including an attorney client letter, knows full well that James Bulger will be a witness at trial,’ Carney wrote. “Mr. Bulger’s attorneys, however, have moral and ethical obligations that extend beyond the fervor to begin trial in March.’’
Carney also chastised Bowler for refusing to authorize the hiring of six attorneys to parse through the massive amounts of data provided by prosecutors.
“The request for contract attorneys was intended to help meet the extraordinary demands of this case,’’ Carney wrote. “Notably, this court rejected, without a hearing, this request.’’
He also chided her for not stopping what he called violations of court discovery rules by prosecutors.
“The court has done little to relieve this additional litigation which is both time consuming and unnecessary,’’ Carney wrote.
Bulger is under indictment for allegedly participating in 19 murders. Carney has already argued in court papers that Bulger was permitted to commit the crimes by federal law enforcement officials, specifically the late Jeremiah O’Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Organized Crime Strike Force.
Carney identified O’Sullivan as the federal official that Bulger claims gave him immunity to commit crimes while he was serving as an informant on other organized crime figures. O’Sullivan died in 2009, and he was identified in a motion Carney filed Wednesday requesting that US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns recuse himself from the trial.
Carney argued that Stearns has an apparent conflict of interest because he was a former federal prosecutor who worked at the same time as O’Sullivan.
In testimony to Congress in 2002, O’Sullivan denied ever protecting Bulger from prosecution.
A spokeswoman for Ortiz said prosecutors will respond to Carney’s assertions in court papers in the near future.
A hearing is set for this Thursday.John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com.