Thoughts On Whitey Bulger’s Jury: Problems with the Evidence and Witnesses

Today We
2402 America

I’m thinking that it’s going to be difficult getting a jury for Whitey. Judge Stearns plans on having the empanelment done in four days. He will work hard to see that we end up with jurors who are the equivalent of the three wise monkeys who prior to sitting in the jury box are supposed to have not heard, seen or said anything about the matter at issue, or as some suggest each juror must be a tabula rasa  or a big black board upon which nothing has been written. Then the white chalk scribblings of the trial will fill the blackboards (jurors minds) with the necessary jottings to decide the issue.

If there are 16 people who will be able to say they know nothing of the case or if they know something are able to say they have an open mind, then one has to wonder at what planet these people are living on. Or, at a minimum to question their fitness to sit in judgment of Whitey if they have heard nothing of the case or hearing it still have no opinion on it.

Yet strange as it seems, for Whitey to have a chance at all, that is what he needs. The biggest threat to him is that a couple of the jurors with minds already made up as to his guilt are sitting on the case hoping that at the end they can get some type of book deal out of it by explaining how it was to sit in judgment of Whitey. I don’t know how his lawyer J.W.Carney will guard against this because one thing we know for certain is that you can’t tell when a person lies.

Originally the jury system was set up to impanel jurors who were called self-informing jurors who would seek out the facts themselves outside the court and then return to the court and give a a verdict. (Verdict comes from the Latin veredictum and means to tell the truth.) The idea was that the more you know from your own knowledge or investigation into matters the better you are able to judge something. This is like anything in life. If you’d studied civil engineering and worked in that field you’d be a better juror in a case where an issue of the construction of a bridge was at issue.

We took the jury system from England and the Common Law. It developed  because as GK Chesteron noted it was the English belief that it is better for 12 men (they were only men at the time) to be drawn from the street to sit in judgment of a person than any judge, court official or law enforcement officer. Chesterton expressed the feeling the professionals were too hardened by the system and they could not differentiate one person from another. You see that today in probate court where cases pass like freight cars on a lengthy freight train in which no car differs from another lulling the judges into passing the same judgment on all the cars regardless of the differing circumstances.

How they arrived at the number 12 for jurors is not known. It may have had something to do with the Apostles or the months of the year or the tribes of Israel. But it was believed best to take important decisions out of the hands of one or two people and hand them to the many.

A requirement was added that the 12 had to all agree as if they were one. It is really amazing to think that you could get twelve ordinary blokes to come to an agreement on anything. Even more amazing is that you now you are asking men and women to agree on one conclusion. But the most amazing thing is that they must agree not merely that the thing may have happened, or probably happened, but to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that it did happen.

We accept that our jury system may not be perfect but it is the best system we have for deciding the facts of any issue. I know I would never want my fate decided by twelve strangers but given the choice of them or a strange judge I’d take the lesser evil, the jurors. (Of course I’d prefer a judge who I was friendly with.)

Whitey’s case is especially difficult because you are asking jurors to make decisions on things that happened in the Sixties and Seventies and early Eighties. People will be relating conversations and putting people into various situations from those times as if they can really remember them.  Supposed someone you associated with back in 1997, a mere 15 years ago, came into court and swore that on October 10 of that year you were with him doing something or other.

How do you show that is untrue if you don’t have any idea where you were never mind on that day but the whole week or even that month? That is one of the reasons we have statutes of limitations. Older evidence is untrustworthy; stale evidence is like stale bread.

This case adds to a juror’s difficulty by asking him or her to believe the evidence from people who are master criminals. These gangster witnesses who have all murdered other people have led lives of lies. It’s like taking the jury to a three card monte game and having them pick the right card.

Imagine sitting on a jury listening to the following exchange. J.W Carney says to Murderman Martorano:

J.W. Carney: “Now isn’t it true Murderman you admit to murdering  twenty people?”

Murderman: “Yeah, I told yuh that! What about it?”

J.W. Carney: “Yet you consider yourself a good man?”

Murderman:  “Yes, good men can do bad things.” (Which he said in his book.)

The most stupid juror will realize that if Murderman thinks he is good he is just as fully capable of thinking that a lie is the truth.  So it’s as likely his testimony is nothing but lies. If this is the case with these gangsters, then add in the age of the evidence and tell me how a jury can expect to tell what the truth is?

That’s the reason the prosecutor needed the bodies from Weeks.  Jurors won’t be able to disregard those.  All they will have to do is to somehow tie them to Whitey based on the testimony of liars.
















6 thoughts on “Thoughts On Whitey Bulger’s Jury: Problems with the Evidence and Witnesses

  1. You sir are an amazing mind. I really like the fact that you not only respond to your readers, but you are the one and only writer slash so many other things that I have seen that responds not only in depth but you address each part of the reader comment. I am astonished at how perceptive you are after all this time, and how you continue to pour out one slam packed fact & opinion column after another. Your response to my last comment is for me, your best one yet and my personal favorite. I have been looking for a lot of background detail on the whole ” Whitey thing ” and I was reassured to see that you once wrote something to the affect that if you are looking for detail on him and the fiasco that ensued, that’s what your writings aim to deliver. I just started Black Mass. Once I finish, Don’t Embarrass The Family is no doubt next on my list. Once again thank you, I fully enjoy and look forward to the next write up.

    1. Craig Mack:
      Thanks for the nice words. I’m glad to see you are looking into these matters. What I hope to come from this is that others will do what you are doing which is to examine what are common beliefs and discuss them with others. We should all do a little more critical thinking about what comes from the media. I have been fortunate because the people who comment here have corrected me and enlightened me about aspects of these matters. I believe if anyone takes the time to write to me it is important I respond even if is a simple thank you. I’ve written before about Black Mass. The authors are good guys who I have had dealings with over the past. They write the book from a Boston Globe perspective which is somewhat anti things of South Boston and Bulger. They are also being fed information from their book by two FBI agents who likewise hate Bulger for their own personal reasons. So, like all people, they have prejudices which they seek to support. Overall, though, I thought the book was well written and very informative. Along that line read: Deadly Alliance by Ralph Ranelli. It is equally as good. Again, thanks for your kind words.

  2. To prove that the brain can be convinced of seeing something that it didn’t when time passes. Just like the one guy you wrote about that was given a lie detector test and passed because he believed what he was saying as truth when in fact it wasn’t. I have done it myself because I’ve been told I have a good memory for old events. But I once was convinced something happened 1 way because that’s what my brain came back with when I tried to pull it from the memory bank. Turns out we found proof of that event and I was wrong in what I thought I remembered.

    1. CraigMack:
      I just wrote to you about how we fool ourselves. I heard the other day it was difficult to tell on a polygraph machine if Soviet spies were lying because they lied so much that lying became natural to them. I’ve always thought if I were accused of something serious I did not do and I was wired up I’d fail the polygraph miserably when asked about the crime because I’d be so worried the machine would report the result wrong. Just the other day I was telling someone I was there when something happened but then I reflected on it and had doubts so I amended it to say I think I was there. There are good studies being done on the brain recently. I read a book recently called “Who Am I?”by a guy named Precht that I enjoyed on the brain. It shows how great chance there is for error and how many other factors influence how we see ourselves and the world. That’s the problem with thinking someone is a liar because a person might actually believe what he or she is saying happened even though you know it is untrue. One of the guys I grew up with would tell me stories of things he did without realizing he was telling me what I had told him I had done six months earlier. Recently a psychiatrist friend who I have a beer with every once in a while told me a story that I told him but he sourced it to another person and made the people involved professors and graduate students where I just had ordinary people in my story. I have to admit his story sounded a lot better.

  3. I saw a study on TV where they let a group of 6 see a fake crash site in Nevada. They let the people walk near it with head cams on and let them see whatever they could. They brought the group back 6 months later and asked what they saw. What they said they thought they remembered seeing wasn’t what was actually seen. The experiment was done to prove that

    1. Craigmack:
      When my first child was born I left the third floor of the Lying Inn hospital in Boston and rode down on the elevator with this guy and had a conversation with him for a minute or so in the elevator and afterwards. Going home a couple of hours later I decided to give some blood to the Red Cross because everything worked out well. I went into the Red Cross building which was then on Huntington Ave and did the paper work and got onto the bed where I would rest while the blood was extracted. A guy walked in to hook me up and he talked to me like he knew me. At first I had no idea who he was – it like took me a minute to figure out he was the guy I talked to in the elevator a couple of hours earlier. You’re absolutely right that people have difficulty remembering things or even seeing things right. There’s an experiment where people are assigned a team to watch, either black shirts or white shirts. They are supposed to count the times their team tosses the basket ball back and forth. While the team is doing this a guy dressed in a gorilla suit walks onto the basketball court, stands right in the middle of the teams, and thumps his chest a couple of times before walking out again. At least half of the people who were tested did not see the gorilla. I had a case where a woman positively, absolutely identified the defendant as the person who assaulted her in a bathroom at the Braintree Plaza. He had a dozen witnesses who said he was working in Worcester at the time. Even after he was acquitted the woman was still absolutely positive the guy was the one who attacked her. I could go on You are absolute right that we all see things differently and identification evidence is worthless between strangers. The problem is no one likes to be wrong and most are stubborn once they make up their minds. It’s not only that, I had a jury case where because of a certain set up I could hear from the other side of a locked door the jury deliberate on my case. I did not recognize the things they were talking about. It was like they sat on another case. That’s why all these people telling about what they did in the past are mostly making up the facts surrounding what happened. The only thing you can really rely on is a contemporaneous diary and even that is a persons impressions filtered through his or her own experience. Take the matter you write about where you showed what happened after six months and make it twenty years. How accurate can anything be after that?

Comments are closed.