Good Friday is a time for reflection. In my early teens we had a custom of not speaking to anyone during the hours of noon to three in the afternoon. This was to keep in mind the suffering of Christ during the three hours He was dying on the cross. From that practice, which I have no memory of successfully completing, I take time on this day to go to church and sit and meditate in the silence for a period of time. I pray a little, reflect a little and let my mind wander.
This year I expect many of my thoughts will turn to the matters surrounding Whitey Bulger which have arisen in conjunction with writing this blog. I suppose in my thinking the following matters will slide by my mind.
What role has David Margolis played in these matters since the time of the FBI hearings before Judge Wolf. Margolis was referred to in those hearings as the person who was called upon back in 1989 to resolve an issue between the local Strike Force Chief and the FBI about disclosing the identity of an informant to an assistant US attorney. Obviously, as the go-to guy in the Department of Justice (DOJ) he was involved in Judge Wolf’s threat to hold the Acting Deputy Attorney General in contempt during those hearings.
In 2008 Wolf wrote a letter to the Attorney General after dealing with Margolis in which he noted: “the Department’s performance. . . raised serious questions about whether judges should continue to rely upon the Department to investigate and sanction misconduct by federal prosecutors. . . . the . . . repeated failures in in a series of matters, . . . to be candid and consistent in its representations to various judges . . . .”
It is said of him: “Margolis is the unofficial liaison for the Deputy Attorney General with the FBI, the Criminal Division and the 93 U.S. Attorneys. He is consulted on ethics issues, such as recusals, on a formal and informal basis.” Perhaps he played a big role in Judge Stearns’s decision not to step down and the prosecutors insistence he keep the case.
Margolis graduated from Harvard Law School in 1964, avoided military service, served no more than 12 years as a trial lawyer and then went to Washington, DC where he’s been in Department of Justice for 37 years operating mostly behind the scenes. What are we to make of a 73 year-old-man who has been working 48 years in the only job that he has ever had, as a lawyer in the Justice Department, who when asked to explain his longevity in the DOJ, “answers bluntly: “I rely on guile, bluff, balls, and the good work of my colleagues, not to mention some luck.” “
A former associate said of him: “Fundamentally, individual interests don’t exist for him. He is there to protect the institutional interests of the department. If you were his best friend . . . I’m sure he would feel bad about giving you the ax. But he would not hesitate.” ‘
Was Margolis the hand directing the prosecution of retired FBI Agent John Connolly? Was it he who came up with the “Rogue Agent” theory blaming Connolly for things that were beyond his control like the existence of the Top Echelon informant program.
I’ll think how that monstrosity of a program created by the FBI in a time of desperation mandated that Connolly get involved with the types of persons like Stevie Flemmi and Whitey Bulger, something that Margolis would have known about. The ‘Rogue Agent” theory would have protected the “institutional interests of the department” and would seem to fit a man who survives by guile and bluff.
What involvement would Margolis have had with the decision to try Connolly in Florida? Was it Margolis that decided Connolly should be tried again in a Florida court for the same offense he was acquitted of by a Boston federal jury. Was it he that allowed federal prosecutors to again participate in his prosecution? Did Margolis decide that the DOJ would not object under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution when a state court (Florida) decided to try a federal law enforcement officer (Connolly) for actions performed as part of his duties?.
When I think these I will know that Carney and Brennan will be preparing to examine Margolis on his knowledge of these things. They will want him to disclose to them all correspondence he has had with the Boston US attorney’s office since the mid-Seventies to the present.
Speaking of Connolly I’ll be wondering how he is surviving. He started in prison as a 62-year-old man back in September 2002. He’ll soon finish up his 11th year in prison. If he gets paroled he will be out in 2025 around the time he turns 85. He never fired a bullet in anyone’s head or stood by while it happened liked Martorano who did just 12 years for 20 murders or Weeks who did six years for five murders.
I’ll try to figure out how the Florida Appeals court has so blithely let an erroneous conviction stand without writing an opinion. I’m told those courts are very busy and I can’t expect an opinion in every case. But if a court won’t justify an obviously flawed result where a guy has been sentenced to 40 years because it is too busy then it ought to close its doors and stop pretending it is a place where justice can be found.
I’ll wonder if Margolis was behind the extraordinary recommendation of ten years in prison for a woman without a criminal record who pled guilty to non violent activities. That, of course, is Catherine Greig, who was Whitey’s girlfriend who knew nothing of the murder allegations when she fled with him in 1995 — no one except the murderers knew of those murders until 1997. Judge Woodlock had to triple the probation department maximum recommendation to impose his eight year sentence.
I’m wondering now if I’ll be doing much praying.