The Opening Statements – A Quick Report

J. Edgar Hoover IN Dedperation Misses The Target.
J. Edgar Hoover IN Dedperation Misses The Target.

I’m listening to the lawyer for Whitey, J.W. Carney, giving his opening statement to the jury and I suddenly start wondering what’s going on in the big picture from Whitey’s point of view. Carney has just conceded that Whitey was running a big cocaine operation in Southie as well as being a bookie and involved in lending money at extortionate rates.

That’s a good portion of the prosecutor’s case against Whitey. So we’re looking at a case where Whitey has no chance of beating a major portion of it.  Whitey is 83 years old so he’s conceding openly that he will never see the street again. He’s heading off for ADX Colorado where he will spend the rest of his life when the jury returns. The mystery of whether he will beat the case or not seems to have evaporated.  He will be convicted of some of the indictments.

Brian Kelly made a very effective opening. I’ll tell more about it later. He started off grabbing the attention of everyone by talking about Bucky Barrett’s murder at the home on East Third Street. One thing surprised me. He said Bucky was lured to the home with the idea he could buy some stolen diamonds saying waiting for him there were Whitey, Stevie Flemmi, Kevin Weeks and another person. Who is this other person who we are not supposed to  know about?

J.W. Carney had the problem in his opening of trying to bluff his way through with a two, four, eight and ten as the cards that are showing when the other hands has three aces as up cards. He broke his opening into two parts; the first showing how corrupt the Boston police scene was back in the 1970s through 1990s paying particular emphasis to the amount of money FBI agent John Connolly received “5 thousand . . . 10 thousand . . .  50 thousand” dollar payments from Whitey who paid him for protection.  Whitey was not an informant because Irish guys don’t inform – (I thought the book “The Informer” was about an Irish guy) and informants don’t pay their handlers. The second part trying to undermine the credibility of the witnesses against Whitey.

It seems Whitey is conceding the case except for the idea he wasn’t an informant and that he did not kill the two women or have anything to do with the Wheeler/Callahan murders.  Thought I’d learn more from Carney so sort of down about that.  I’ll write more about it.

Got to go back for the evidence. I can’t blog from inside the courtroom like the others.

12 thoughts on “The Opening Statements – A Quick Report

  1. The Irish are people like everybody else, some squeal, some don’t.

    I think we’ll have to look real hard to find any honorable, any virtuous acts amongst this crowd of sinners.

  2. Why admit your client did anything. The opening should have been about challenging the credibility of the government’s witnesses only. Openings are usually a waist of time. In the fifty ( approx.) jury trials I did I never made an opening. You can’t win a case on an opening you can only make a mistake. Carney may have been boxed in by his client to proclaim he wasn’t an informant. Or was he baiting the Feds into proving WB was an informant and helped back in the eighties to bring down LCN. Is this the back door immunity defense? 2. It seems counterintuitive to claim he paid large sums to the cops and FBI. Wouldn’t it be better to portray him as small time and local? Claim over a decades time he only gave Morris $seven grand. Morris got much more from Berkowitz. Minimize your payoffs. Demonstrate that you were a minor player. Winter ran the Winter Hill gang for most of the time. Enlarge the role of the Mafia. Show how the Feds over the last twenty years have been fooled into chasing small fish while letting sharks like Salemmi and Limone skate. 3. Didn’t WB state when arrested in L.A. that Connolly was an honest cop and had nothing to do with the Callahan killing? ( Of course the media immediately pronounced you can’t believe a career criminal). Yet one year into the proceedings he’s on the jail telephone claiming he never provided info but paid for info. The recorded phone conversation looks as a staged invention and rationalization for his conduct. Plus if he claims he paid off many he corroborates Flemmi’s claims. Why do that?4. Four months hence when the closing statements are given a different tune will be sung. Don’t be surprised if Carney is fired and WB goes pro se.

  3. This other mystery person has to be Pat Nee,You know the guy who wore a ski mask to kill Halloran and Michael Donahue. Weeks is lying for Nee.Vice versa. Howie ”Gossip Queen” Carr is pathetic matching up couple of his books they completely differ with whatever suits his story. Pat Nee’s brother’s basement was a used as a burial ground. so that kills much of his not knowing what would happen to Mcintyre at the house.

    1. Doubtins:

      No mystery any more. The feds and state know he’s a murderer but the state guys are afraid of going after him. Can’t figure that out. Conley the Suffolk DA should be investigating this but he’s too busy doing other things.

  4. That’s always been the end game, and I can’t think of any other.

    Whitey did what criminals do- crimes. Certainly play down Whitey’s role if he can. But focus every cross on where the FBI was, where the FBI “witness” was, what the FBI knew was going down. Yeah, Whitey was there, but the FBI knew it, allowed it, even had it’s guy there. Then string it all together and hope the “country” in the jury box is so offended at the FBI’s opproprbrious conduct they render a verdict on the FBI and not Whitey.

    But now I’m worried. If that is the only way to win, then what is Carney arguing? Trial lawyers tell you to slam home primacy, recency, and repetition. Publish your theme to start, keep it up, then drive it home. What is that theme today? That Whitey is a cocaine dealer but not as bad as weeks, Stevie, and the like? What theme is that?

    And I didn’t like the opening line as reported on the Globe’s twitter. “I took on this challenging case . . .” Might as well have said “My guy is guilty and man do I want to be a party of the biggest trial in the country.” How does that help his client instead of build his rep? Doesn’t to me. How about “This case is about the spurilous, most corrupt, most treacherous organization in the history of the New England mafia- the Boston office of the FBI.”

    Now, Carney knows his trade so I hope he has something up his sleave. But I was tremendously underwhelmed today.

    1. JIM:

      You hit upon my confusion with this case. There seems to be no theme. The defense opening seemed to have been written by Whitey. What are you left with? OK the FBI’s corrupt but this guy’s a major drug dealer and involved with the mob and there are 19 people dead out there. How does the corruptness of the FBI justify the killing of people. I’m still trying to work out where they are going. Maybe they have no plan. Maybe there only plan is to somehow get a mistrial.

      I felt the same way when Carney said the case was challenging. Why, I asked. Because your client is guilty? I can’t agree with you more at this point. I figure they might as well throw in the towel. If Carney just said the one line you wrote he would have made a more compelling opening than he did.

  5. Maybe they’re going to do what you suggested a while back. Admit he is guilty of some crimes but make the jury repulsed at the Govts. dealings with Martorano and crew?

    The part I found amusing was Kelly saying Bulger corrupted the cops and FBI agents. Perhaps I misunderstood what he meant but it sounded as though he was blaming Bulger for cop/FBI corruption instead of the corrupt ones themselves.

    1. Question:

      I would have thought that but you’re not going to repulse the jury by telling it he’s a drug kingpin who made millions upon millions of dollars. I thought that they would deny everything and say the government is so corrupt it made it all up. Now I see the defense strategy is being directed by Whitey so his ship will burn quickly. You have to keep in mind Bulger is to blame for everything – even the Red Sox loss in 1967 or was it 1978 – whatever he had something to do with that first basement letting the ball go between his legs.

  6. Are any non family members or non media allowed in the court room? I’d like to sit in one of these days.

    1. Eastthirdst.

      Yes, There are seats reserved for the general public. Court opens at 7:30 so come early. Talk to deputy and make sure he knows you are there. If you don’t get in there is an overflow room for the public you can go into. I find the overflow room for the media is pretty nice but you don’t get the flavor of the actual courtroom and can’t see the jurors.

  7. Jim Bulger wants to wind up sitting at the metal picnic tables under the trees, overlooking the bocce, and, hand-ball courts, at FMC Rochester, or, someplace like it. The problem is that rats just aren’t welcome at those tables. So, he’s has to get out from under that reputation, hence the insistence that he was not an informant. Also, as you’ve pointed out, there’s the matter of murdering two young women. If he can’t beat both those charges, he’ll might as well go to ADX, because, even in population, he’d just be a very isolated, lonely, old man

    1. Khalid:

      Whitey ain’t never going to see the daylight again after he gets off the plane in Colorado – he’ll never get out from being a rat, in fact, I’m going to write how he’s the Big Rat. He’s all washed up and Carney’s opening showed it.

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