Part 4: Whitey Bulger’s Hearing Before First Circuit: Afterward And Conclusion

J.W. Carney is Pinned
In The Corner Somewhere.

When Carney finished his rebuttal, hardly had he reached his seat than the clerk called for the next case that was scheduled to be heard that day. Judge Lynch asked to parties to hold off on their argument until the court room cleared. Over three-quarters of the people who were sitting there jumped up and left.

I was the last in line to leave when I heard counsel on the next case start talking about the issue of normal investigatory procedures which must be done prior to a wiretap being authorized. This has always been of interest to me. I stayed in the court to hear the arguments on that. It was about 45 minutes after everyone else left the court that I departed. Outside I saw the media pressing Carney into a corner just outside the front court’s entry doors plying him with questions.

I watched a minute or so and planned to leave when I was approached by a  person with an interest in the case. The discussions were of a private nature. After he left another person also came up and introduced himself. This was also private. Both conversations give me a better feel for the matter and indicated I was mostly correct in my analysis.

What’s the bottom line in the Court of Appeals. The judges if not aware of it could look at the packed court room and see there is widespread interest in the case. This was referred to also at some point in the presentations. The notoriety of the case and of the defendant of necessity will play into the court’s decision. Also, the court has to consider the prior opinions by other appeal court judges which support the belief by some that Whitey Bulger is already considered guilty by the judges without being given his day in court.  When it looks like the deck is stacked against a person, the court has to be extra careful not to reinforce that perception.

I’d suggest the judges have great skepticism in J.W Carney’s assertion that Whitey had immunity. There are no facts to back it up. It may be a bogus argument. Do they want to have a judge step down from a case in such a circumstance? But then again, this is a once in a generation case and the learned judges must be aware of the continuing controversy over Judge Webster Thayer sitting on the Sacco-Vanzetti case in another once in a generation case.

Judge Stearns has maintained he has no knowledge of Whitey. Judges give great deference to other judges under most circumstances. How could they not do it here where there are no facts to show otherwise just some wild speculations? But assuming Stearns had no knowledge, what difference does it make if it looks like he should have had knowledge. That is the unnecessary debate that may arise.

This is a very rare case. Nothing like it will occur again in the judges lifetimes. Having Stearns step down in these unique circumstances will set no precedent. The judges must think that if Whitey is as bad as we are lead to believe how will the public accept that a person in Stearns’s position would have no knowledge of him. Especially so, when you consider his office was doing a wiretap hoping to catch him as well as other investigations of him.

For me the answer is easy, Stearns knew nothing of him because Whitey really was not considered or known to be a big time criminal when Stearns was running the US Attorney’s office. Stearns’s knowledge during his tenure in the ’80s is being judged by what we think we know in 2012 after propagandizing by an extensive anti-Whitey media.  I also know this. I did wiretaps in a much smaller office. The first assistant at the time had no knowledge of them. Stearns’s problem is he is caught in the trap where history has been rewritten by the media.

The court’s problem is that even if it is sure Whitey’s position has no merit they cannot assume the public will have the same belief. Won’t a reasonable man wonder why Judge Stearns insisted on staying on the case and the Court of Appeal left him on the case when there are so many others who can handle the case without any objection or any delay

Weighing the need to give Whitey a clean sendoff to one of the maximum security prisons or one that will leave a sour taste in some mouths I’d suggest this is the type of case you bite the bullet and no matter how distasteful it may be within the confederacy of judges you tell Judge Stearns he’s absolutely right in everything he’s done but for the good of all it’s best he step down.

That’s what I would do. Why have an issue when you don’t need one even though it is one manufactured out of whole cloth.

As I said before, Carney identified in his rebuttal the one issue which is to make sure nothing is done that will bring discredit on the judicial system. The top-notch panel in this case will sit down and weigh this one issue. They will ask how will it look to historians and the informed public at some point down the line that the chief prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office which office dealt on a daily basis with members of investigative agencies who were investigating or protecting a so-called notorious master criminal, Whitey Bulger, that he was allowed to preside at the trial of that criminal. They will have to weight that against Judge Stearns’s determination not to be forced off a case on a pretext.

I’ve said removing Stearns makes the issue go away but then again is it the right thing to do?


6 thoughts on “Part 4: Whitey Bulger’s Hearing Before First Circuit: Afterward And Conclusion

  1. so when do we find out if or when judge stearns steps down from this trial, it starts in a few months?

    1. Paty Mac
      We should have learned already. The Court of Appeals heard the argument and is now deciding it. It’s a simple issue. It’s a once in a generation case and should have no taint attached to it. One view is that it is taking so long because the judges will let Stearns sit and are writing an opinion to justify their doing so. We’ll be overwhelmed with legalise. I think other wise. I would like to think that the judges realize it is not their relationship with a fellow judge that counts but the perception of the public. They might know Stearns will be totally impartial but that there is too much is out there for people not to wonder. I thought with Judge Souter on the bench that he’d be better able to appreciate the need for a clean case. In that case the delay is because they are trying to pacify Stearns and line up another judge (probably from outside the Boston court) who will be ready, willing and able to handle the case. The decision to have Stearns step aside will include the name of the other judge who will get up running. it may be ironic that the new judge will be worse for the defense that Stearns would ever be. The case will go forward in June and I’d say within a week we will have a decision.

  2. i had a long very interesting conversation with 2 men from boston yesterday at the beach. both of them born and raised in massachusetts one of them living there all his life , the other moved here to honolulu in 1975. we spoke of the red sox, patriots , mass state elections and the whitey bulger saga. the lifelong mass resident said many people have tried for many years to get anything they could on billy bulger and no result whatsoever. the man also stated that after whitey fled in 1994 and more and more info books etc came out about whitey, billy started taking a lot more heat. as in if the feds could not get whitey ,billy would do just fine. kevin oneil was an important man for the whitey crew running the socalled legal buisnesses and he felt he never got his just due as far as being an important cog. i mentioned this blog and they said they would check it out. both of them called howie carr entertaining not informative and one of them said howie carr wants to be bill oreily . that is national fame not local. it was a very interesting talk. i keep enjoying your informastive posts, regards

    1. Norwood Born:
      Thanks for the input. The guys you talked to seem to have a good idea what is going on back here. I appreciate you mentioning the blog. The stuff against Billy Bulger first came out in 1988 when he was supposedly involved in an extortion of money from Harold Brown over the 75 State Street building. I hope to write on that soon but it clearly wasn’t an extortion since it was a deal Brown solicited from Tom Finnerty, Bulger’s law partner, and entered into freely. It was only a year or so after being sued for the agreed fee, which was several years after the contract, that Brown who was then under federal indictment for perjury and bribing a city inspector had a couple of lawyers who came up with the idea he could get out of paying the rest of the contract if they alleged it was extortion. Then it was after the 1997 hearings where Stevie Flemmi admitted he was an informant and then after John Martorano pinned many of his murders on Whitey that things really heated up for Billy. I appreciate your continuing interest in the blog as well as your comments. Hope the weather is treating you all right. I was in Hawaii twice: first time for two hours or so while the plain refueled on my way to Japan; other time for 24 hours coming back on a troop ship. It’s a beautiful place.

  3. This isn’t directly related to this piece, however, with the speculation that surrounded the authenticity of the FBI’s account on the female tipster from Iceland… you believe this rendition of the tip that resulted in Bulger’s apprehension?
    Also, Ed MacKenzie was already in cahoots with the authorities prior to his arrest and resultant bogus account of when he supposedly became an informant – one of MacKenzie’s sexual assault victims tried to bring forth charges in 1988 on a vicious sexual assault, however, the BPD quashed the charges, to include the FBI also stepped in to ensure the charges were de-railed. MacKenzie is a rat and a vicious sex offender….a serial sex offender.

    1. Jan:
      Carmen Ortiz said at the news conference after Greig got eight years that the FBI you see today is not the FBI of yesteryear. She’s absolutely wrong because the FBI today is the same FBI we’ve always had. It is hard to believe anything that it says because there is no way it can be verified. It seems clear that the FBI if it wanted could have found Martorano who was living large during his 16 year flight in Florida. I’d suggest there was more involved than a tip out of the blue from Miss Iceland. I can’t prove it. When Bulger’s flight became an issue in foreign circles after we complained about Pakistan not finding Osama bin Laden and they responded that who were we to talk when we couldn’t find Whitey and then within weeks of that he had been captured then I have to admit that the Iceland story seems very strange.
      It’s not unusual for us to have a double system of justice, one for informants and one for everyone else. The cops seem to forget what their job is when it comes to informants who are criminals. Once they befriend an informant they they become his partner protecting him from further charges. That’s the basis of the FBI top echelon program as well as the way the local cops work. It’s not surprising they’d help out a serial sex offender or serial murderer if the person continued to provide them information. All of what you mention are the things that have been exposed as a result of Whitey’s situation.

Comments are closed.