Quick Take On FBI Agent Connolly’s Big Win

(3) John ConnollyJohn Connolly has just been dealt an ace. The card game goes on. The next move is up to the prosecutor. The case in Connolly’s favor was decided two to one. There was a vigorous dissent put out by a judge. That the decision was a split decision makes it more likely that the Florida Supreme Court will grant a stay of Connolly’s discharge and accept the case for further review.

The dissenting judge, Leslie B. Rothenberg, called the decision of the majority “grave error” which is a term not usually used among judges. It seemed to me Rothenberg wrote her dissent as if she has a horse in the race since she went to great length to set out the background facts of the case making every negative influence she could against Connolly. She could very well have been wearing a cheer leader uniform with the letter “W” in bright pink on her green sweater cheering for Team Wyshak.

I found it interesting that she told how Connolly “prepared and submitted a series of false reports suggesting that other organized crime factions in Boston were responsible for Halloran’s murder.” It’s true that Connolly filed reports on the Halloran murder relative to what Whitey was telling him. That they turned out to be false after the fact doesn’t show that at the time Connolly was filing them he knew them to be false.

One of the problems judges have when it deals with informant information is they assume the FBI agent (or any law enforcement officer) who writes down information from an informant believes that information. That’s not the purpose of those informant reports. The purpose is to keep track of just what is being reported so that it can be followed up on if it corroborates other information. The handlers of informants usually know a lot of the stuff they are getting is not worth too much but they put it into their reports for what it is worth but that they do does not mean they believe it to be true.

The judge’s take on Connolly’s reports is he was putting them in to protect Whitey when in fact he was just recording what Whitey told him which was several different things. Because it was in Whitey’s interest to turn the investigation from him doesn’t mean that was Connolly’s interest.

Connolly at trial was convicted of second degree murder with a gun. He was acquitted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The case seems to come down to whether Connolly’s possession of a gun at some time during the planning of the murder, no matter how remote to the murder was sufficient to support his conviction of murder with a gun.

The two judge majority pointed out the charge only indicated one gun was involved in the murder and all agree that was the one possessed by Martorano who did the murder. The majority says that you look at the events around the murder to determine whether Connolly was carrying a gun and noted he was in Massachusetts while the murder was in Florida. The dissent said that’s the wrong standard. She said that if at any time during the planning of the murder of the victim John Callahan Connolly had a gun that is enough. Flemmi testified at one time when he met Connolly he had his FBI issued gun with him. For the dissenting judge that was enough even though that meeting was months away from the murder.

My gut tells me the dissent is way off base in the legal theory. If Connolly was convicted of the conspiracy aspect of the crime, conspiracies can run over long periods of time, then perhaps his possession of a gun during that time might have relevance. But in this case where he was acquitted of the conspiracy, then it would seem to me that the reference to the gun would have to relate to a gun that was in proximity to the murder.

Here’s where the dissent errs. It could not possibly be the intent of the law that if I went to a local firing  range and took some practice with a .45 caliber pistol during a period I was planning a robbery with my friend Henry, and a couple of weeks later in pulling off the robbery neither one of us had a gun but Henry who had a knife on him got into a struggle with a person who died from stab wounds, that I could be charged with murder with a gun. That is the theory of the dissent.

Even though the judges make the law so it is very difficult to know how cases will come out, even cases with seemingly identical factual situations, the judges still must write their decisions in such away so as to avoid results like the example I gave. Their decisions should not lead to results that make no sense.

Connolly being acquitted in Florida is against the interests of many people, including powerful people in the federal government. I expect the prosecutor to appeal the case to the Florida Supreme Court. That court should not accept it but as I suggest a lot is going on in the background. If it accepts it, then it will be a year or so before we learn the final result.

The right position for Florida now is to let Connolly out on bail. Until the Florida Supreme Court acts to overturn the Appeals Court, he is an innocent man. The likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning the Appeals Court should be remote but this is not like any other case so no one knows what can happen. But kudos to the two judges who had the courage to follow what appears to be the most appropriate interpretation of the statute governing the crime.





21 thoughts on “Quick Take On FBI Agent Connolly’s Big Win

  1. Louis, Patty is correct. Over the years we’ve written endlessly to Florida newspapers, the Globe and the Herald, and rarely have our views been aired, except by David Boeri.
    Kevin Cullen wrote 2 days ago that Connolly was acquitted by the Appeals Court on a “technicality.” Not true: He was falsely convicted in Florida on a gross misapplication of Florida Law. Not only had the SOL elapsed, not only had an essential element of the crime never been proven, not only had the trial judge failed to instruct the jury that to be convicted of Murder by Gun you had to have the murder weapon in your possession, but also the Enhancement Statute applied by the Judge (a) specifically excludes crimes for which carrying the gun is an essential element and (b) explicitly requires that the defendant actually have the gun i.e., the murder weapon, in his “possession” during the commission of the crime.
    As Connolly had been acquitted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder by the Florida jury, there is no way the Judge should have let the Murder by Gun charge go to the jury in the first place.
    2. I’ve written to the Boston Herald asking them to remind their readers that John Connolly was acquitted in Boston of all murder-related charges. Let’s see if they print the letter.
    3. The Murder by Gun charge against Connolly was a straightforward issue of simple statutory construction. The Appeals Court should have decided the matter in weeks. The Trial Judge said in open court he thought it would be decided quickly. It took six years. Something’s rotten in the state of Florida.
    4. Patty is correct that the Globe and Herald reporters have a vested interest in perpetuating the lies: not only are their profits at stake (from books and newspaper sales), but their reputations are at stake. Hold your breath to await the news that during his 22 years as an FBI agent, the Boston jury convicted Connolly of only one charge (giving that case of wine to Morris) and acquitted him of any involvement in Callahan’s murder or anyone else’s murder. Period. Never will the Boston Press clearly state that the Florida jury acquitted John Connolly of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and wrongfully convicted him of Murder by Gun. Never will the Boston Press state that the Miami Justice Project only takes a case, not on technicalities, but if it firmly believes factually in the innocence of the person wrongfully convicted.
    5. Leaving the issue of Double Jeopardy aside (the Feds’ prosecutors in fact tried Connolly twice for the murder of John Callahan), perhaps more and more people are beginning to realize that John Connolly was wrongfully prosecuted and wrongfully convicted in Florida; that the reversal of his conviction is not based on a “technicality” but on Florida’s gross misapplication of its own criminal laws.

  2. Louie,

    Over the years, the media has been presented with most of the information you read here. Unfortunately, the financial interests of the media prohibit them from publishing the information. The DOJ can provide free news stories to reporters every single day. Wyshak and Kelly simply call the reporters and tell/leak the story with slant the DOJ wants. Reporters like Shelley Murphy and Kevin Cullen barely have to get out of bed to earn a great living, and it shows in their burgeoning physiques. It pleases the DOJ even more if the reporters write a “non-fiction” book/movie promoting the DOJ’s cover stories. The only thing the reporters must do is comply with their golden goose DOJ sources.
    No reporter and no editor would ever bite the DOJ hand that feeds by publishing the truth about John Connolly.
    It’s fortunate that Matt is in a position to write this blog and that he has the courage and integrity to do so. It’s the same for many of his commenters. To my knowledge, this blog has never been explicitly mentioned in any mainstream media. Notwithstanding, I am convinced it has been passively and anonymously referenced in multiple news articles and even some DOJ filings. It’s the only outlet and it does have some effect. Specifically, I believe that Matt’s blog shed light on the DOJ’s “Caswell Motel Caper” such that the outcome was altered.
    SCOTUS Justice Black once said that the founding fathers established a free press so the press could be free to scrutinize and criticize the government on behalf of the citizens. The role of the press is to protect the citizens from its government. The fatal flaw in this noble design is that the founding fathers underestimated the profit motives of the press. The profit motive has turned the press to protect the government from the citizens. Murphy, Cullen, Carr, Lehr, O’Neil, etc have all cashed in and become wealthy by signing on to the DOJ gravy train. They have betrayed their solemn constitutional duty to their country. They will defend their benefactors and viciously attack anyone who interferes with their profits. The citizens are not the only casualty of this greed. Truth and justice also suffer.
    The only way to reverse this structural flaw is with the actions of citizens like MC. Right now, Matts blog is the only place these ideas can to be printed. But the information and ideas are good, so they will grow.

  3. Matt,

    Can you post a link of the original 2008 Florida decision acquitting Connolly of 1st degree murder? I want to hear the court’s reasoning and the evidence they considered in the acquital.

    1. Dave:

      There was no written decision in 2008. The case went to the jury and the jury came back with the not guilty on the first degree murder and on the conspiracy to murder. As you know why the jury reached that result is a mystery known only to those jurors.

  4. Every one of you write so eloquently and convincingly about the miscarriage of justice in the John Connolly case and the egregious errors of the dissenting judge and the editorial columnists. But are you just whispering amongst yourselves?

    Why don”t you articulate and committed people share your views with the media and somehow try to reach the rest of the world who only read or hear the nonsensical crap being spewed by the ignorant and the haters???

    How can we (you) get the truth out ?

    GO TEAM !!!

  5. GOK,

    I was so traumatized by the sight of Dershowitz wearing nothing but a woman’s big pink sun hat that I won’t even fish offshore within eyesight of the Vineyard. Searing!


  6. The former Massachusetts state police officer Tom Foley I think is his name wrote a very interesting book. Point blank he wrote John Connolly kept Whitey Bulger out of prison with his official FBI behavior. The former State Policeman WROTE THAT THE WOLVES WOULD HAVE STARTED circling Whitey once he was locked up and he could have put away for life. I feel very strongly that the interests of the Commonweath of Massachusetts would have been enhanced with the shooting of and planting of a gun on Bulger like has been done in other parts of the world. Enough with the legal semantics.O

    1. Norwood:

      Foley was all right but he was also instruental in framing John Naimovich. He was an FBI junkie for a while and then became disallusioned with them. No question Connolly kept Whitey free from law enforcement investigations but that was his job – what he did was approved by everyone in the FBI. It was the purpose behind their Top Echelon Informant program which continues to this date.
      You can never have the planting of evidence on one person no matter how bad he may be. If you accept that cops can do wrong to one then you have no reason to complain if they do wrong to you. We must always be a nation of laws and if we can’t convict a person doing it correctly then we must try harder but always do it right. If you allow the devil to be sicced on one person; then he may be sicced on you.

  7. Dershowitz is one sick bigot. He has been obstructing the Miami Innocence Project and demanding that they not work to clear John Connolly. (I know this first hand.) The Innocence Project took Connolly’s case knowing that his verdict would likely be overturned on the statute of limitations. The Project Director said the statute of limitations issue was hardly relevant. The Project only chooses cases in which they believe the accused is FACTUALLY INNOCENT. Their research showed them that Connolly’s verdict is not only legally flawed, but it is a factually wrongful conviction of an innocent man.
    Imagine that Dershowitz is so blinded by hatred that he has gone out of his way to keep an innocent man in jail?! With that much venom running in his veins, Dershowitz could poison all of Vineyard Sound, even if he wore a bathing suit.

    1. Patty:

      Have you failed to understand the depths of the hatred of a person like Dershowitz. Nothing he does surprises me. He has never tried a case in court by himself yet pretends to be a trial lawyer. He’s a plain bad man.

  8. How does Florida continue to incarcerate an innocent man? Connolly’s conviction was overturned by the Appeals Court. It took them nearly six years to conclude the obvious: The Statute of Limitations had run on the “murder by gun” count (b) the Enhancement Statute could not be used to alter the SOL and (c) an essential element of both the Murder by Gun and the Enhancement Statutes was missing: to wit, John Connolly never held the murder weapon in his hand. If you don’t actually hold the murder weapon you cannot be convicted of murder by gun; if you don’t hold the weapon or don’t have it “within arms’ reach” at the time of the crime, the Enhancement Statute does not apply.
    B. I heard the Florida D.A. say she would appeal to the full (10 member) panel of the Appeals Court and, failing there, someone said she then would appeal to Florida’s Supreme Court. Such appeals could take five more years. How do you hold John Connolly in jail during these appeals? It’s a continuing travesty of justice.
    C. I would be in Federal Court with a habeas petition tomorrow to get him released pending these appeals. And I would raise all the Constitutional issues including SOL and Double Jeopardy.
    D. I also heard on T.V. that Allan Dershowitz, who hates all things connected to the Bulger family, has volunteered to help Florida, the FEDs in the person of Wyshak, and others to appeal the reversal of Connolly’s conviction.
    2. No one on television so far has mentioned that the Federal jury in Boston acquitted John Connolly of any involvement in any murders. That jury said not guilty of involvement in murder a total of six times: not guilty on three counts of leaking information that led to someone’s death (including Callahan’s, Halloran’s and Castucci’s) and not guilty three identical counts sounding under RICO, the racketeering ac. I repeat for emphases: SIX TIMES THE BOSTON JURY SAID “NOT GUILTY” TO counts alleging John Connolly was connected to any murders. No one in the Boston Press or Boston Media has reminded the public of Connolly’s acquittal of murder charges in Boston. No one has reminded the public that Connolly was acquitted in Florida of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
    3. Patty is correct to remind us that the trial judge in Florida said the Statute of Limitation had run and an essential element of the crime had never been proven. Along with the two Appellate Judges that makes 3 Florida jurists who concluded there was no basis to convict Connolly of anything. Remember, the trial judge expected the Appeals Court would immediately reverse his sentence and release. It took the Appeals Court almost six years to do what it should have done summarily in weeks.
    4. MIchael Sullivan was a disgrace on T.V. urging Florida appeal the recent decision. Sullivan lost in Boston: he lost six times on his attempt to link Connolly with murder. He should respect the Boston jury’s decision, after all it was his own jury.
    5. I’VE READ, SUPRA, THAT PEOPLE ALLEGE AN APPELLATE JUDGE WAS INTIMATE WITH ONE OF CONNOLLY’S PROSECUTORS in Florida. I WONDER IF THAT JUDGE OR THE TRIAL JUDGE WHO SENTENCED CONNOLLY TO 40 YEARS ON A COUNT FOR WHICH HE HIMSELF ADMITTED THE SOL HAD RUN WERE RELATED IN ANYWAY TO bULGER-CONNOLLY-HATERS LIKE WYSHAK AND DERSHOWITZ. I remember Shelley Murphy reported the trial judge flew up to Boston for some purpose while the Florida jury was out. Who did he consult with? Did he confer with Sullivan, some Feds, some local law professors? NOthing wrong with doing that, unless some bias was at work.
    CONCLUSION: As it now stands, john Connolly stands not convicted of any crime in Florida. How in the name of God does Florida presume to continue to imprison him? It’s been over five years since he was wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced, and Florida still holds him in jail. What an enormity!

  9. Three judges have now agreed that Connolly’s verdict was “fundamentally flawed”. The trial reached that conclusion early on, but claimed he lacked the jurisdiction to rectify the situation. He sent it up to the 3rd DCA which had jurisdiction to simply apply the law and quickly correct the injustice. Instead, the 3rd DCA issued an unappealable per curiam decision putting a 70 year old in procedural limbo for years.
    Several years ago, I too heard from a lawyer in Florida that a judge on the 3rd DCA was dating the state prosecutor on John’s case. If she intentionally issued the per curiam and obstructed the rest of the court from applying the law to free John….too disgusting to imagine.
    In any event, it’s crystal clear from Judge Rothenberg’s dissent that she not only has a horse in the race, she is under the influence of the potent Wyshak Kool Aid. Rothenberg’s dissent is not simply uninformed, it’s affirmatively misinformed.
    Hopefully Connolly is freed soon and has the energy to expose the corrupt methods the US Attorneys employed to manufacture the evidence against him. This report quotes Frank Salemme describing how the US Attorneys coached him to make up crimes to pin on Connolly: http://justiceforjohn.com/?attachment_id=210
    I always assumed this was how the US Attorneys operated, how else could multiple government witnesses testify falsely, but consistently with each other? Nonetheless, it’s positively startling to read it in black and white.


  10. I just hope they do not release the child molesters/sex offenders Edward MacKenzie and Flemmi.

    1. Jan:

      I just learned from some one who commented that MacKenzie is locked up somewhere in Rhode Island.

      I’m worried about Flemmi. Connolly was rightfully released by the appeals court judges; Flemmi might have a side deal with Wyshak to get released. I felt very uncomfortable when that was discussed during the trial.

  11. Connolly has now been found not guilty of leaking information that led to Callahan’s death by a jury of his peers in Boston. Not guilty of first degree murder and conspiracy to murder by a Florida jury on the same charges. Now an appellate Court has exonerated him on the 2nd degree charge. Hopefully this decision stands and justice is done. You are right on point in saluting the judges who ruled in his favor. Giving due process to one so defamed by an evil press and an evil DOJ is not easy. Many in the media will be crying in their beer if this stands up. Look at how much time and effort the Globe and Herald put into framing him. Kudos also to his friends and co workers who remained loyal. All he ever needed was an honest judge and now he found two. Great post.

    1. NC:

      Good comment. This will be met with great chagrin among many. I’m wondering if all those who called him a murderer can be sued by Connolly – that will be something to see. The Globe and Herald and others will play up the dissent which is really nonsense. The idea that you can be convicted for murder for a gun if you picked one up during the planning stage and you then went ahead and strangled a person as the dissent would have us believe is ludicrous.

      Keep me informed about Bill.

  12. Beware of the dissenting judge Matt. her dissent looks like it was written in the Moakley Building.
    I have heard some solid rumors that she has a personal relationship with one of the Connolly prosecutors in the Florida State Attorneys office.

    Thanks for the breakdown of her lengthy dissent.

    1. Ernie:

      She was a little overboard in her dissent – it seems to mean the case goes to the Florida Supreme Court. Like you I’ve been told in the past that she has some relationship with the prosecutor in the case. I’ll have to see if I can find it in the comments. I’m sure she was pissed that she was forced to justify the turning down of Connolly’s original appeal. I think she’s way off on the law but as you know the courts can say black is white or vice versa depending on what they had for breakfast or who their sponsor is for a higher court position – I read she’s looking for a position on the supreme court.
      This is a kick in the groin to a lot of people, some with influence and power. There will be a lot of pressure to change the result.
      By the way I’ve had a lot of people tell me they really like your blog. Keep up the good work.

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