New Policy & The Barbarity of Justice

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The end of the Whitey’s trial should have been the end of this blog, after all it was entitled: “thetrialofwhiteybulger.”

When I first created this back in June 2012 for the most part I stayed with matters relating to Whitey but often discussed others happenings in the criminal justice system such as the strange homicide of Ibragim Todashev, the actions of Annie Dookhan, the inability of our criminal justice system to change after 100 years, and the FBI’s continual blunderings and cover-ups.

I had no trouble doing that because the in a sense the story of Whitey implicated much else that occurred in our criminal justice system. However, since the trial ended I have written here about other areas that go far beyond the original purpose of the blog.

Recently, I ventured into discussions on foreign policy. I have decided that I am mistaken in doing this on this blog. This blog will go back to its original idea of dealing with Whitey and the issues surrounding him even though his trial is over there are still some matters that will continue. This means, of course, there will be much less to write about but I will post on matters concerning Whitey from time to time.

As far as the case is concerned, all that is left is the sentencing which is to begin on November 13, 2013. I do not plan to attend that because I cannot find it in me to sit and listen to people try to outdo themselves in spilling out their venom at Whitey.

In fact, I wonder what purpose all of this will serve when it comes down to the bottom line. Whitey’s toast. The only questions that remain is whether he will serve his time in ADX, Florence, Colorado, a cleaner version of Hell or carted off to some cell in Florida or Oklahoma to face the death penalty. One thing for sure is he won’t be at Plymouth for Thanksgiving.

Even though he is rightfully going to spend the rest of his short life in prison, or if the stars align right get executed, having him sit through one person after another calling him vile names seems to me to take us back to some type of barbarity.

Didn’t we see enough of that at the time Catherine Greig was sentenced when one person said to her that if she was her sister he’d also kill himself referring to her brother having done that; and others called her a  “cold-hearted criminal” and a ” dirty bitch.”

Judge Woodlock who allowed Greig to be publicly vilified to her face said he was sorry she had to hear the “crude, cruel” statements. Then to show how sorry he was he sentenced her to an extremely cruel unprecedented sentence for a person without a criminal record who committed a non violent crime of eight years in prison because she went off and lived with Whitey as a wife.

Although I have not an ounce of sympathy for Whitey, I believe the criminal justice system demeans itself when it allows such displays. The idea is to treat even the worst among us with dignity. The punishment for criminal acts is set out by statute. The barbarity of prisons we close our eyes too even though we heard of some of it happening in Plymouth County where Whitey was strip searched repeatedly on a daily basis just to harass him. That some low life guards in prison will become brutes seems to be accepted; when the judges join in then we’re really descending back to barbarism.

In the future, those matters relating to Whitey and the criminal justice system which I have written about in the past will be the only matters on this blog.

I will move over to a new blog to discuss other matters. I have started a blog called Hub Gab. It is located at www.hubgab.com. There I will write about other matters in which I have no expertise but merely an opinion. I’d like to have others join me there and would welcome others who have ideas about Boston and the world to post there.

 

 

19 thoughts on “New Policy & The Barbarity of Justice

  1. Matt my friend, It’s been too long. I would like to commend your incisive observation about the brutality and debasement that was present at the sentencing of catherine greig. She was a classy, wonderful human being with no criminal activity other than loving Jim bulger. What may not be known is even the federal probation department agreed with our argument that the sentencing guidelines were “capped” at 24 months. Almost unheard of in the federal court that probation sides with the defense. Notwithstanding that, judge woodlock immediately discarded that and proceeded to calculate a severe and extremely high sentence for this woman. This was followed by one of the nastiest, most vulgar, brutal and cruel ” victim impact” statements. First, It begs the question, How were they victims??? Makes me laugh. Then, To allow a federal courtroom to become a pit for the debasement of a pitiful scared woman was beyond belief. The criminal ” justice” system does not stand tall in this case . Catherine however is alive and doing very well and stands heads over all those who denigrated her as well as the system that seems somewhat neutered in its handling of this whole debacle. Thank you for your objective reporting of this and other matters of interest. Great job!!!

    1. Kevin:

      Nice to hear from you. I agree with you about the circus that happened in Judge Woodlock’s courtroom. Reading about it one would think that Catherine was holding the victims down while Whitey murdered them. I couldn’t figure out how those people were considered victims of Catherine in the first place – how did she victimize them when she had nothing to do with them in any manner? What was most absurd was the idea she knew that Whitey had murdered anyone when she fled with him. She really was the victim in the case. Her sentence was beyond criminal. She was punished for the crimes of another, a concept that could only be found in Boston’s US attorney’s office.

      The hearing before Woodlock was disgraceful enough but the decision by the Court of Appeals and the flippant manner in which the judge wrote it really turned my stomach. It seems it’s an in-house game in that court that lacks the gravitas one would expect in a federal court.

      I admire you for persisting in it. I had to get away. It was too bad about Bobby George. If you hear from him give him my best. I tell you viewing what is happeing from a distance really is chilling.

      I’m glad Catherine is doing well. I’ve often thought that of all the persons from Southie it turns out she was the only stand-up person who kept her peace, kept her mouth shut, and took her punishment, as unfair as it was. And I include in that statement Whitey who went out whining and diming out (if he is to be believed) the guy who gave him a pass, John Connolly. They ought to put up a monument up to Catherine over near Castle Island as a tribute to all those women from Southie who had the courage that many of their men lacked.

      Take care and keep punching. Good to hear from you. You’re a good guy.

  2. Dear Matt,

    Thanks for keeping your audience apprised of this important decision as well as your reasoning behind it. I agree with the need for consistency in choosing the correct venue and to do so by forging a new venue for voices of a different nature to be heard. Hopefully the volume shall rise to even greater heights than those which you have reached here; hopefully the work you have done here shall be merely the beginning rather than an end, as some seem to fear.

    On a more substantive note, I wish to redirect towards your mention of victim impact statements (VISs). I agree that there must be a certain decorum and dignity when victims express feelings — and it should certainly be done in a manner which respects not only the rights of the convicted, but also of the judicial process. Screaming out “dirty b**ch” and exploiting unrelated family tragedies serves only to hurt and debase the very core of justice.

    Per contra, we must also remember that victims do have a voice in the criminal justice process as well; indeed, are they not a part of what society seeks to make whole by initiating criminal prosecutions in the first place? In that spirit, I respect the need for victims to have an important role in that process for their own closure and healing; they hold back until sentencing, only if and when the accused have become the convicted.

    Yet, that decorum must be respected, and the onus of that rests on the shoulders of the judge and those entrusted to ensure order in the court, such as court officers. The criminal justice process, like a civil action, is designed, in theory, to make society whole again. That includes the individual victims who are a part of society as much as the civil justice process depends upon remedying individual harm.

    Of course, there are always varying degrees of distance between theory and practice, even when it comes to healing. I suppose that the shortcomings shall determine how big the scars are which shall linger there forever as a remnant.

    For further consideration, I also submit this engaging study published by the National Criminal Justice Research Service (NCJRS): https://www.ncjrs.gov/ovc_archives/reports/impact/impact.htm. This piece expressly supports the role of VISs, as it is entitled “IN Defense of Victim Impact Statements”: http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/osjcl/Articles/Volume6_2/Cassell-FinalPDF.pdf

    However, your perspective into the role of victim impact statements is not uncommon; there are numerous resources which explore the perspective that victim impact statements create bias towards the convicted, resulting in an added obstacle towards the rehabilitative ends of the criminal justice system. This piece comes from New Zealand: http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Newsletter_PDF/Issue_87/VIS.pdf.

    This British editorial argues clearly and unequivocally even in its title, “Victim impact statements have no place in UK”: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3643540/Victim-impact-statements-have-no-place-in-UK.html.

    Finally, this excellent piece discusses the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, with which you are undoubtedly well-versed as it was announced in the late Eighties when you were well into your prosecutorial career, I believe: http://www.class.uh.edu/faculty/tsommers/retribution%20and%20punishment/ethical%20significance%20of%20VIS.pdf

    In Booth, the Court held that VISs had no place in capital cases, as it may “inflame” a jury to assign a death penalty rather than a long prison term. The article goes on to consider ethical issues surrounding VISs, but it does offer a very comprehensive and succinct background into the role of VISs, which appears to be a growing trend today.

    When victims heckle, debase,and cajole convicted persons at sentencing proceedings, it conjures up visions for me of America’s early colonial penal system where in some colonies such as Pennsylvania, those found guilty of crimes were placed on public display to be shamed and mocked by onlookers for long periods of time. While sentencing hearings may be a shorter time, the “tools of the trade” — and the result — are the same.

    Ultimately, I believe that balance is required, and oftentimes it may be an issue which comes on a case-by-case basis; there must be certain rules to VISs as well, and they must further the end of informing the facts prior to a sentence being conferred. You will perhaps argue that the facts have already been stated during the trial or admitted to in a settlement resulting in a guilty plea perhaps, and that VISs are thus rendered moot. Yet more than anything, I believe it is to give the victims a voice in the healing process, but that process should not be to the detriment of the defendant.

    This is especially true because too often some may forget that whether they like it or not, even those convicted of crimes are still a part of our imperfect human society, too. That applies even when we shutter them away; they may be out of sight, but they are never quite out of mind.

    Thank you for presenting this issue, and perhaps I shall see you all in the new space as well.

    Respectfully yours,
    Jay

    1. Jay:

      When I started off in the business the victims had no say in the process and I felt that was wrong. It was like the present day FBI where things were kept secret from the people who needed the answers. Early on we recognized the need for something different. My office was the first to employ a victim witness advocate named Sheila Martin and from that beginning we were the ones who pushed the explsion that occurred to the point we have reached today. A victim of a crime has to be heard by the judge in considering the sentence. We even do it in cases where the judge has no discretion in the sentencing which makes no sense. It does mak the victim less of one if she or he feels not left out so I believe in it whole heartedly.
      As you can see being in on the ground floor of this movement my belief remains strong until I see Greig situation. I have to wonder if the pendulum has shifted too far. Judge Wooklock was clearly out of line in allowing Greig to be vilified. The statement is not supposed to be an attack on the defendant but an explanation of the sufferings caused by the defendant’s actions.
      A better system would be to have the statements made outside of the defendant being present since the defendant has no role to play in the proceeding. Like anything it can be abused but on the whole the more open our system is to all the better off we will be. This is especially so now because during most of my practice the news media had a presence in the court on a daily basis but now it only shows up on sensational cases and 95% of the matters handled are not of the sensational kind.
      Glad to see you’ll be staying for long ride.

    1. Ernie:

      He might as well flaunt it since he’s being protected by the federals. The article is a typical simplistic look at Southie. Whitey’s 84 and the guy Rocco is 50 and he’s supposed to have worked or had some connection with him. It’s always a treat to take these naive TV types into a neighborhood and say to someone “how you doing Knocko” or “what’s up Muggsy” and they make a story out of it. It’s like Weeks going around to the suburban women’s clubs and letting them stand close to him. Apparently America is so bereft of heroes were looking for them in Southie bars.

  3. focusing on the injustices allows you to go off topic once in awhile with sports etc.

    You have a storefront here with pedestrian traffic and people stopping in. I wouldn’t move.

    1. Ernie:

      I’m not moving, I’m just adding an annex across the street. The original joint will stay where it has been.

      1. he was guilty. The reason I remember it is that I mentioned to Mrs D that they had overstepped the mark.I also thought Mr Jeffries wasn’t a good example to use this morning. He got legal redress – in other words there was a law already there, the press transgressed and got punished. Unless you want to go for a form of jupsnce.&ibsp; &nbts;9 likes

  4. Matt,

    I say keep this blog and keep the same title. Add a new subtitle.
    You have a nitch and it is not Bulger it is the institutionalized injustices that occur within the state and federal justice system.

    Wyshak has the probation trial coming up. I wish you would cover that Matt. It is a disgrace. Harvey Silverglate and Nancy Gertner have co-authored a paper condemning the fed on this.

    Paul Ware’s report misstated facts then called for the indictment of a Bulger.

    Matt, take look at the first paragraph of the first report os the Globe Spotlite series on probation.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/05/24/obrien_rise_and_reign_defined_by_tenacity/

    Spot the issues Matt. Ho many judicial canons did Mulligan violate. I sent up an anonymous complaint to the Judicial Conduct Commission. lol

    Anyway Matt, there is so much more, the Orlando shooting and cover-up and the everyday stuff that need explaining.
    You have a nitch that started with Bulger but with the increasing military state your eye is needed to match ever everyday news stories with the realities behind them.

    This site is organic. It will grow through social media etc.

    “The Trial of Whitey Bulger and Other Stuff”

    But that’s me.

    1. Ernie:

      I am keeping this blog going on but intend to maintain it as close to the idea it has been in the past which is limited to Whitey and the criminal justice matters. I’ll use the other blog for going off into other matters in other areas. That way those who are interested in just staying with this subject can come here and not have to dig through other opinions on matters that don’t particularly concern them.

      Thanks for your suggestions. I’d like to cover the probation trial but I’ve made commitments to she who must be obeyed that may not allow that. Hopefully, though, I will have time to cover it in some fashion or other. I appreciate you wisdom and I hope to keep this blog true to its original intent. I appreciate your idea that I modify the explanatory title of the blog a bit.

  5. Matt,

    I think you are handling this just the right way. This blog is scheduled to become an anachronism in the next several weeks and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to see Mr. Bulger vanish into the maw of the prison system. As someone with a generic Irish face, a pretty much receded hairline and a beard, I am tired of being stopped and asked: “Hey, do you know who you look like?”

    “Yes, I know I look like him.”
    “No, I didn’t wear an orange jump suit for Halloween.”
    “Yes, I realize that would be incredibly funny.”

    Anyway, I look forward to reading Hub Gab and all your uninformed opinions and baseless speculation on matters you know little about. That’s always worked for (insert name of every talking head on TV)and you have the advantage of actually interacting with normal people to draw on.

    I have found your opinions (and speculations) thoughtful and interesting to read and I like how you call ’em as you see ’em. I look forward to a widening of your field of fire.

    Will followers of TTOWB be automatically signed on to Hub Gab?

    Jeff

    1. Jeff”

      Thanks for the support. I don’t see any reason why you won’t still be stopped. All you have to say when asked is, “sssh, don’t say a word.”

      I’m happy you will come over to Hub Gab. I can’t carry people from here to there and I really think it best not to. Many came here for Whitey news and probably have no interest in my uninformed opinions preferring the uninformed opinions of others.

      Thanks for the nice words. If you want to get Hub Gab you’ll have to join over there.

      Don’t forget if any of the veterans of this blog want to say something between 500 and 800 words then you can email me at iixq@yahoo.com and I’ll post it. It can be on anything you like from Boston politics to sports to world events to arts or what have you.

  6. Matt,

    It seems to me that the take away message from USA v Bulger was the systemic corruption of the US Justice system. Specifically the TEI program. Boston was but one Hub of that program, and Bulger but was one beneficiary of that program for years, until he wasn’t. Although we have heard some promising quotes from several agents of Justice that corruption is in the past. There are still clean up issues to deal with that need the spot light shining…a Beacon on the Hill, so to speak.

    Peter Lance is covering the NY angle, and Mark Mitchell is covering the international angle on his Deep Capture blog, but Boston’s victims still need a voice. I am hoping you will still be that voice for us.

    As for brutality in jail. When I was maliciously and illegally evicted and arrested in the kitchen of my family’s home I ended up in solitary confinement for 3days. During that period of time evidence tells me that I was given a blanket that was contaminated with disease. I was mistreated. The air to my cell at one time was turned off. And, when I complained I was ruled not competent to stand trial. So, I understand first hand “the barbarity of justice “. Victims such as my family need a modulated voice. Our facts speak loudly, we do not want to shout, but if no one is listening. Then what?

    1. Jean:

      You are absolutley right about the basis for the FBI corruption. I hope to write more about that as it relates to the TEI program and how it came about and what resulted from it. The real problem we face is that it is still in existence and the FBI has become more arrogant as we see with its refusal to tell us how it killed Todashev or to respond to Congressional inquiries in the Marathon Terrorist Attack on April 15.

      I think you may underestimate the problem when you call Boston the Hub of it. We only know what Boston did because Judge Wolf force the FBI to give us a little peak at the files of two of its TEIs. We’ve been getting information on New York through some sources, but the rest of the nation where the program is operating remains closed to inspection. It seems there is no way to conclude others did not equally abuse the program.

      I will keep writing here because I want this blog to concentrate on Whitey matters. By moving other areas to the Hubgab blog I can keep keep the idea behind this blog in tact while venturing into other areas in the other blog. Stay here with me and we’ll see if we can do anything to better our country. Of course, you can always look in at http://www.hubgab.com if you find yourself with some extra time although it seems to me you’ve got your hands full in your many other enterprises.

      1. Matt, here is a copy of my FaceBook posting this morning. I do believe that this is a signal that perhaps the powers that be do what to effect change. This doesn’t mean that we should not keep the light shining on the issues that need to be changed. I will stay with you all the way Greater Good v Greater Greed shall prevail.
        ————————————————————-
        Jean Allan Sovik
        Progress report – a good first step:

        Below is a link to a breaking story that is somewhat related to my saga.

        A little bit of background for new friends:
        In 1994 the High Birches Springs that is owned by my family’s businesses was granted a large groundwater permit to extract up to one million gallons of water per day for sale as bottle drinking water. For any of you friends that have purchased bottled water you can do the math. Because of our deep ecology environmental concerns we partnered with The Nature Conservancy in order to develop a sustainable model that could, in the future, be implemented as a standard for other large ground water permits. Our policy was, and always will be: ‘Water is Life’.

        So for those friends who have done the math, it is not a difficult leap to see that my family became a target. Greater Greed v Greater Good. Considering that the BIGS (bottled water industry/plastic co, etc) had all the money to pay corruptible government agents (to include those in law enforcement) it is not a stretch to see how easily I could be become POOF (Person our of Favor).

        And, so when the water supply & distribution system of the springs were sabotaged in 1997, immediately the real perpetrators went to work to make me the primary suspect; which was ridiculous on its face considering the value of the High Birches Springs to my family. But, sadly, certain agents of both the US and NH State governments were corruptible.

        So it should be no surprise that all of my family’s complaints to the Boston FBI either fell on deaf ears, or were otherwise destroyed on the command of the higher level bosses. Why? It appears now that after testimony under oath during the trial of Whitey Bulger that there was a program since the 1960s called Top Echelon Informant, which protected certain major crime persons to include serial murders. Unfortunately for my family, those persons whom we had named in our complaints were covered by the TEI program. The die had been cast a long time ago. My family was only a current victim, not the only victim.

        As I stated above, here is a progress report of sorts. For the first time that I am aware a Top Boss of the Boston FBI has been charged, albeit with only a violation of the ethics law. It shows that when there is a political will for Greater Good to overcome Greater Greed, things can happen.

        An interesting note about the company that the Boston SAC assisted in its ‘pump and dump’ securities fraud is that the main contract that the company claimed was with Homeland Security. Yes, that US Government agency. Stay tuned for future progress reports…

        http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/ex-head-of-boston-fbi-charged-with-violating
        Ex-Head Of Boston FBI Charged With Violating Ethics Law
        livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com
        A man who from 2003 to 2006 served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI has been charged with violating a federal ethics law, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. Kenneth Kaiser, 57, was charged with one count of making prohibited post-employment

        1. Jean:

          Don’t get your hopes up to high. That an information was filed means a deal has already been worked out. That the information is so limited to one person again shows the desire to keep a lid on things in the FBI. If it’s unethical for the retired SAC to contact others in the FBI, what is the story with those others.

          Expect this to be a slap on the hand. A misdemeanor will not affect the guy in any way. He’ll probably not go to jail. The whole thing seems more like the US Attorney’s office’s hand was forced so they came up with a face saving step where all will get off lightly and the public will believe something has changed.

          I’ll change my mind on all this if the guy goes to jail. Then I’ll begin to think there a shift in the wind.

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