Those are the lyrics I should be humming now that we are at the penultimate day of the trial.,
Instead I’m thinking of the Soviet Politburo where Comrade Stalin presided, or the island of Cuba where Fidel Castro still lives on. What makes me think of them is the absurd exercise that I am going to have to witness today. Stalin, Castro, or even Hitler were noted for their long speeches. Now we have to relive the experience of their captive audiences and listen to two, three-hour and fifteen minute speeches. I defy anyone to sit through such an exercise and remember 10 minutes of the almost 400 minutes or dreadful oratory we will hear today.
I Googled to learn whether it was only dictators who gave such long talks. I found this article. The question posed was “why do authoritarian leaders give such long speeches?”
It had no real answer to the question. It noted some people thought the reason was that the “applause (out of either genuine passion or fear for one’s life) often accounts for a substantial portion of history’s longest speeches. The BBC even highlights an amusing example from Russia’s own Stalin, who received a standing ovation that took up a whole side of a vinyl recording of one of his speeches.” We won’t have that excuse in this case since the jury cannot applaud although it certainly can fall asleep.
A professor added his two cents worth noting: “You are only ever going to get long speeches when the speaker doesn’t have to worry about the audience running away.” Which seems to be the appropriate response to what lies ahead of me today.
The reasons I think this is an exercise in foolishness is that there are so few matters at stake in the case. Whitey has admitted to most of the charges against him. He has not even contested being the ring leader of the organized crime activity in South Boston; his lawyers didn’t even cross-examine Billy Shea the guy who ran the drug distribution business for him. The limp defense they put up to the drug charges was that Whitey was only running the marijuana and cocaine business, to which Zach Hafer responded through a witness that’s all he is charged with doing. As for the gambling activity it was clear Whitey had all the bookies living in fear of him and he was raking it in, didn’t his lawyer say millions upon millions of dollars from these rackets.
From those concessions it follows he was into money laundering, loan sharking and extortion. To keep himself happy doing that he surrounded himself with all sorts of guns, machine guns, grease guns, revolvers, pistols, silencers, and even guns with the serial numbers defaced.
Then what’s left – the one count charging racketeering with the 19 predicate acts of murder. The RICO charge is proven if 2 of the 19 acts are proven. Whitey has not challenged 17 of them. It’s fair to say of the 32 indictments against him, he really has no chance of beating any of them.
In effect, guilt or innocence aspect of the case no longer is relevant. He’ll be found guilty of all charges. The only mystery remaining comes down to two predicate acts that don’t matter to anyone but Whitey who says he didn’t kill the two women, and to the prosecutors who want to win on every last allegation. For all it really means they could save us the 389 minutes by flipping a coin over it for it has no effect on the sentence, only on the egos.
I know there are other matters we will hear about but none of them really have anything to do with the ultimate findings the jury will have to make. We’ll hear Wyshak spend much time telling the jurors Whitey is an informant, he’ll tell them Agent John Connolly filed false reports in Whitey’s informant file and true reports, take your pick, but that Whitey could not have committed all his crimes but for him being an informant and for Connolly tipping him off. “Why else would Connolly be protecting him if he weren’t an informant.” All this is for naught because the jury will convict Whitey whether he was an informant or not.
Carney and Brennan will spend most of their time on the informant issue, and through that attacking the FBI and Department of Justice. They want to do all in their power to prove Whitey’s contention he wasn’t one so much of their argument will be devoted to that. Then they’ll pound away at the evilness of the witnesses, especially Flemmi, and they’ll tell why he murdered the women and Whitey had nothing to do with it. To the government use of such horrid witnesses, they’ll then weave in the evilness of John Connolly who allowed them to carry on their terror. They’ll suggest the jury should say there’s a pox on everyone’s house and therefore they should set Whitey free.
None of what the long-winded attorneys say will matter. The jury early on saw enough gangsters, guns, fearful men, and dead bodies to have made up their minds. They should not be out more than a day after the judge gives them the instructions.
I mentioned the article about why dictators talk so long. One person wrote in his answer which I believe is far and away the most trenchant. He said: “Because brevity is the soul of wit – and they are, by and large, witless.”
Now don’t blame me for saying that’s what I think of the lawyers in this case who believe they have to engage in 195 minute speeches to a jury. I didn’t say it. Julian did. Blame him.
One further thing: Commenter N noted that we hardly remember anything about the two or three hours speech given by Edward Everett at Gettysburg but many can recite some, if not all, of the other speech that day that was delivered in 3 minutes. It’s best to be pithy.