Is Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Devising a Game Plan That Will Put Whitey Back On the Street?

There’s a lull in the news about Whitey Bulger.  The court case will not be heard again until October 5.  Right now both sides are trying to straighten out the discovery problem which they are disputing over.  Last time in court Carney didn’t have much to say —  sat back sort of like Bill Belichick watching the game plan unfold in front of him.

I never tried a case against Carney so all I know is his reputation.  A lawyer I highly respect and who I did try a case against Tom Drechsler was quoted saying this of Carney in BC Law, a Boston College Law School magazine.  “You have to respect attorney who feel the difficult cases are part of the profession.  No matter what people’s opinions about his clients, I’ll bet anyone who’s worked with or against Jay would agree he is an extremely hardworking, talented and dedicated advocate.”   By the way the same thing could be said about Drechsler who represented John Naimovich and continues to represent the toughest client in the world, members of the Boston Police Union.

That’s a high compliment coming from Drechsler but he’s a defense lawyer so maybe he has a bias.  I sought out the prosecutor who was against Carney in one of his most high profile cases to talk to him.  He had nothing but good things to say about  Carney and he too is a hard judge of trial lawyers.  But one thing he said to me that grabbed my attention, he called Carney cautious.  Cautious in the sense that he’s not reckless but is always under control — if he says something he’s not just throwing it out there, he has a reason for saying it and he usually backs it up even though it might be a bit later before you realize it.

It reminded me of another highly respected defense lawyer, Frank DiMento.  On occasion I’d talk to him during some of the cases he was trying.  He’d tell me of something small thing he did that day that I couldn’t figure out why.  I’d have to go back to him for an explanation.  He’d tell how he was laying the groundwork for a big event a few days later.   He always saw the big picture and was continually working toward it and often diverting the prosecutor with side skirmishes here and there that had no relation to where he was heading.  He’d give the prosecutor lots of little Pyrrhic wins but he’d come back with the trophy.

When I thought of this I had to reconsider the previous post I had made about Carney on the issue of immunity.   If Carney is cautious then he’s not bluffing when he says Whitey had been given immunity by someone in the Department of Justice for all his criminal actions.  In that prior post I said that immunity would only be forward looking and there was no way it looked backwards suggesting Whitey might have the OK for his future murders but not for those that occurred before he got the immunity.  I didn’t think immunity was like confession where you get forgiven for your past sins.

But now I’m thinking differently.  I was wrong.  Of course it is like confession — Weeks, Martorano, Salemme, Morris, Flemmi all got forgiven for their past offenses as long as they did their penance — not a few Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s — but a little time in prison.    I’m guessing that Carney’s plan is to have Whitey admit to some of the murders, deny others like the young women Flemmi killed, but say he was given immunity for the murders.

Carney originally was going to file a motion to bring the issue up but he’s figuring the judge won’t buy it.  Not because it isn’t valid but because he thinks the judge may not be predisposed to accept the argument.  Judge Stearns, who might hear the motion, worked in the Department of Justice.  He might have worked with the US attorney who Carney alleges gave Bulger  immunity.  It is complicated for Carney to be trying a case in front of a judge who may have had a prior relationship with a person who may play the critical role in the trial.  I suppose Carney figured it best not to put the judge in a difficult position so he’s moved the issue over to the jury to decide.

Again that’s another reason to believe Whitey will testify — the issue will fall flat if he doesn’t tell how he relied upon that promise and did what he did pursuant to it.  I’ve guessed that the person in Justice who gave Whitey the immunity is former Strike Force Chief Jeremiah O’Sullivan.  FBI Agent Connolly told TJ English that O’Sullivan and Whitey met on a rainy afternoon near Christmas in 1977.

I assume Carney has a way to prove this other than Whitey.  I don’t think he can use John Connolly because Connolly has refused to testify in any court, although now, since he’s locked up for the rest of his life he might recognize that unless he starts talking under oath he’ll never get out of prison.

Wow!   That’d be something — watching Connolly and Freddy Wyshak, mortal enemies, engaged in an almost life and death wrestling match in the court room.  The word donnybrook won’t come near to describing it.   The lines to see that will be bigger than those now forming for the iPhone 5.

I’m intrigued by Carney’s game.  I have to look into this subject of immunity a lot more than I have done.  If he wins on the immunity issue here, the Florida and Oklahoma cases will also collapse.  Whitey could walk free.  Wouldn’t that be something?

2 thoughts on “Is Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Devising a Game Plan That Will Put Whitey Back On the Street?

  1. It will certainly be interesting. Theoretically, O’Sullivan could have given him immunity (federally at least) for murders both past and future. But I don’t think you will ever see Whitey walk free because of his age.
    If he wins in Boston based upon his “immunity” claim he will still have to litigate this in the Florida and Oklahoma courts. While it is possible he could eventually succeed in those forums, I think he will die of natural causes before this happens. Florida is very slow in moving a case to court mostly because of it’s discovery rules. It has the most liberal discovery rules in the nation. Meanwhile the Dade County Jail is literally a hellhole. Dade County holds about 8000 prisoners each day in it’s 6 jails but Whitey will be kept in the Main Jail. Paul Rico was there for a short time and caught something that killed him just as he arrived in Oklahoma.

    In Boston, if Whitey gets to argue his immunity to the jury as a question of fact (rather than having it decided upon as a question of law by the judge)he has a chance. One, juries are capable of doing anything and two, he apparently has very good counsel.

    1. JHG:
      Everything you say here is right on the button. Whitey knows he is never getting out. He wants to spend the rest of his life in jail doing it as easily as possible. He’a in Plymouth now locked up 23 hours a day but with visits from his family. He wants to delay things as much as possible. The first step is to put up a good fight in this case in Boston and hopefully drag it out as long as possible. The judge has already decided that jury can hear part of his immunity defense so there’s a one in a thousand chance he can beat the case. As you correctly note, if he did then he’s off to Florida and then Oklahoma, neither place seems to be where an 84 year old guy will have any rest and relaxation. He’ll have to be kept in some sort of isolation because there are too many head cases who’d like to brag “I killed Whitey Bulger.” It’d take those states several years to process him. If he won there he’d be in his late 80s and then could go out and face the gun charges on the West Coast.
      If he’s convicted (I should say when he’s convicted) in Boston, he is looking at ADX in Florence, Colorado. He’s looking for one more ride on the merry-go-round which will be his testimony in Boston where he will tell his side of the story. You’ve done a great job in cutting to the core of the case. Thanks for commenting.

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