I’ve spent the last week discussing the issue of Judge Stearns recusing himself. This is now before the Appeals Court. That matter will be decided quite quickly. Stearns will be told to recuse himself or will be allowed to preside over Whitey Bulger’s trial. The latter result may come about if the Appeals Court ducks the decision by suggesting that Whitey’s lawyer J.W. Carney has brought the issue before it prior to the time it was ready for a final decision.
Meanwhile Judge Stearns will be deciding whether J.W. Carney may have the issue of whether AUSA Jeremiah O’Sullivan granted Whitey immunity decided by that jury.
I really don’t care whether Judge Stearns sits or not. I believe knowing his history he’ll give Whitey as fair of a trial as he’ll ever get. But what I think doesn’t matter. What does is the perception that will be left with the general public. I’ve suggested from that point of view it is better for Stearns not to sit because of the perception of his partiality.
But here’s what I really don’t get, why make an issue of something that does not have to be an issue. Why is the prosecutor’s office so insistent on having Judge Stearns sit on the case? Why is Judge Stearns so anxious to sit on the case?
There’s no way Whitey will be acquitted of all the charges so why not make it a nice clean conviction rather than one laden with questions of there being a stacked desk. The trial is not scheduled until June. There must be some judge with no background in these matters who can jump in and be fully ready to kick it off on the time-table already set.
A limpid picture of guilt is going to be made cloudy by the judiciary for what reason? Just because it can? I’ve got this feeling that the judiciary has become so isolated that no one is seeing the forest for the trees.
The whole Whitey affair has been messed up by the federal government. The FBI and the Boston U.S. attorney’s office tolerated an almost two decade relationship with Whitey and Stevie Flemmi that has brought disgrace to both of them. Why does the judiciary want to wallow in this mud?
AUSA Fred Wyshak untainted by any prior associations with the matter picked up on the knowledge of the law enforcement community and went after Whitey and his fellow gangsters in an attempt to bring an end to the cozy relationship between the feds and the gangsters and to try to make up for years of misdeeds.
He indicted Whitey and others for racketeering. Whitey fled. In the meantime Wyshak and his team kept heavy pressure on all Whitey’s gangster associates and turned them into rats as they scurried to save their own skins. Accomplishing that, Wyshak was able to develop evidence that Whitey killed 19 people. Some of the evidence is weak but other parts are rock solid.
There is little doubt that he will gain a conviction on some of these charges. Given his good work and the good work in most respects of his investigators in this one aspect of bringing down Whitey, although disagreeing and criticizing the way they handled some aspects of it, I can’t figure why is he not interested in having the question of judicial partiality removed from the case.
All I can figure is it’s probably he just wants to get on with it. He’s been handling these matters for upwards of twenty years. He might be anxious to do other matters. In this state of mind, he’s willing to just get a conviction regardless of the public perception. He’d be wiser if he backed off a bit.
But let me turn from that and tell you what really bothers me. What I find inconceivable is that Weld, O’Sullivan, Mueller, and others did not seem to think there was anything aberrant about White and Stevie Flemmi being informants. Yesterday I told how Weld figured the FBI didn’t want to investigate Whitey because he was its informant. Why was it he didn’t figure out that having this person who O’Sullivan said he knew was a cold-blooded murderer and the leader of a gang of vicious criminals as an informant was beyond the pale and should not have been tolerated. Why didn’t any of these men stop this mockery of justice? Who is running our justice system, the DOJ or the FBI?
Brian McGrory of the Boston Globe called me in 1988. He asked me if I thought Whitey was an informant. I told him no because I could not conceive of such a situation. After we finished talking, I didn’t give it a second thought. You just didn’t take gangsters like Whitey and Stevie Flemmi and make them part of your team. I’ll never understand how this happened nor will I be able to understand how the FBI ever thought it was a good idea to partner up with high level gangsters it knew were murderers.
One final thought on this issue. Perhaps Weld & company did not believe Whitey was as bad as we now perceive him to be. Judge Stearns who was part of that group and whose job it would have been to know these things suggests he knew nothing about any investigations into Whitey Bulger as of 1990. Are we wrong in taking our knowledge of today, after all the rats exposed their sordid lives and the many crimes they and Whitey committed, and making it the knowledge of people in and out of law enforcement during the Seventies and Eighties? It is a common mistake to take what we know now and assume it was known back at a prior date.