Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney In Desperate Move To Protect Client

A View From
The Bridge

J.S. Carney has gone to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit according to a news reports here.  He is asking for something that should require little thought on behalf of the Appeals court namely that Judge Stearns not be sitting on the case against Whitey Bulger. His odds of getting relief aren’t good. No one is of the mind to give Whitey the benefit of any doubt but Carney’s not going to let that deter him from giving Whitey the best possible defense.

I guess J.W. Carney figured Whitey had been put on the fast track to ADX Florence (not Italy, Colorado) which is used mainly for terrorists after he read Stearn’s decision where he told him to file a brief on the issue of whether the idea that O’Sullivan gave Whitey immunity is a matter of law for the judge to decide as the prosecutors have urged. Carney needs to get the issue to the jury if he is to have any realistic change of springing Whitey. Stearns originally agreed that it could go to the jury but is now having some doubts about it.  If Judge Stearns says it is his decision obviously he’ll decide that Whitey had no immunity. This will carve the heart out of Whitey’s defense.

According to the Globe’s Shelley Murphy, Carney wrote that Whitey’s trial “will go forward under a dark cloud that threatens to taint the integrity of every aspect of the proceeding” if Stearns is allowed to sit on the case.  Those are pretty strong words. But not as strong as Joan Vennochi’s, one of the few courageous newspaper writers, who said that Stearns hanging on to this case may be an example of  “one more person caught up in the web of dishonor between Bulger and the FBI.”|

I’ve expressed my feeling several times that Stearns should not preside. You know my reasons for Stearns to be off the case. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston and worked with and was friends with other assistant U.S. attorneys who will be witnesses in the case on the issue of whether Whitey Bulger got immunity from Jerry O’Sullivan another U.S. attorney. He was a high ranking assistant U.S. attorney in the Boston office during much of the time Whitey was running wild.

Stearns says he can be impartial but who wants a guy who was charged with bringing you to justice sitting in judgment of you many years after he didn’t bring about what he was supposed to have done. Stearns said he never was involved in an investigation of Whitey but can’t be examined about his involvement because he is the judge.

Stearns has twice turned down Carney’s request that he recuse himself. Now Carney has turned for help in another forum. The problem with Carney looking for help from the Appeals Court is that he represents Whitey Bulger. That court has had several cases that have stemmed from the actions of the FBI and Whitey Bulger and has already pretty much condemned Bulger. He’s not going to find a sympathetic ear there.

But more than that, Carney’s request to the Appeals Court may be too soon.  If Stearns rules that it is a matter of law rather than of fact whether O’Sullivan could give immunity, then in a sense Stearns will not have to sit in judgment of the actions and testimony of the people he worked with in the U.S. Attorney’s office even though in another sense him making that finding will lead many to suspect he’s done that to protect his buddies.

What is really the problem is this issue does not have to exist. Every decision Stearns will make will be questioned. Why would he want to put himself in this position unless that is the case?  Stearns could easily pass it on to another judge who can catch the ball in mid air and run on with it. Then there will be no second guessing.

It really seems strange that Stearns wants to create an issue where there need not be one. I suggest the standard for recusal should be if in any way you will be judged by the common man as having done something which may reflect poorly on your impartiality and you easily could have someone else do it then you should not have done it.

I’d note an old sheriff, Big Bill, has come back to town.  His recent statements  seems to complicate matters a little for Stearns. I’ll talk about this tomorrow.


6 thoughts on “Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney In Desperate Move To Protect Client

  1. How would one know whether Judge Stearns was in the ‘loop’ when AUSA Faulke’s Superiors determined not to expand the jurisdiction of that Organized Crime Task Force in order to investigation John Iuele, Gene Phillips et al? The protection that was extended to John Iuele aka Whitey Bulger could be construed as implied immunity by a jury of his peers.

    1. Jean:
      I wouldn’t know anything about Stearns knowing about John Luele, Gene Phillips, etc. I do not know AUSA Faulke or who was in that line of command. The act of not prosecuting someone in a broad sense gives that person immunity.

  2. I’m not suprised Stearns insists on handling the case the reason is simple; Control.

    Stearns and his friends just want this to go away. Once Bulger is convicted the hope is he will die awaiting any appeals and that will be that.

    How can a potential participant in the Bulger FBI scandal be sitting as the presiding judge on the case makes no sense but remember this is Massachusetts where the Justice system only works for a certain few the average citizen or political enemies don’t get U.S. justice they get the Boston version.

    1. Notaboyo:
      I agree. This is a real embarrassment and there has been a team back among the powers (you can bet the FBI has put in its two cents) and it is decided to push ahead and limit the issues of the trial to just the murders, wrap up the trial quickly, limit what Whitey can testify to if he gets on the stand, and basically tie Carney’s hands. No appeals court will do other than keep Whitey locked up if he is convicted in the most unfair manner imaginable. They hope no one will notice and they go on with their lives. Justice is in the eye of the beholder. Right now the judiciary looks upon Whitey in such a way that no matter what happens to him they will consider it just.

  3. Much as I’d like to see every remaining day of Whitey’s life be a day in Florence (and yeah – i don’t mean Florence, Italy, either), I find it incredible that Stearns is presiding over this case.

    I’m no lawyer – I sold +advertising+, okay? But there would seem to be pretty strong grounds for Stearn’s recusal… It seems to me (and I can’t cite anything precisely, so forgive me), that I’ve heard of presiding judges’ recusals occurring on far flimsier grounds. It seems to me that a higher court could grant another trial based upon Stearns’ conflicts of interest, yes? Why would Stearns open up this case for +that+ obvious a ground for appeal?

    – formerly of Watertown, MA, now NYC, but still highly interested!

    PS – just ordered your book about John Connolly’s prosecution… Looking forward to reading it. I appreciate your view if this topic, very much.

    1. Kristi:
      Thanks for ordering the book. I hope you enjoy it. I too as you know am surprised he is sitting on the case and you make my point that even people who are not involved in the law can’t figure out why he wants to have this controversy. FBI Director Mueller is one of his best friends from reports and it is clear he knew about Whitey’s criminal activities. To think two guys in the U.S. attorneys office who are friends don’t discuss the hottest news in town is pretty difficult to accept by the common man even if it is true. I don’t know why Stearns wants to put himself in this position where there is an appearance that the court is not going to give Whitey a fair trial. I’d think the judges would bend over backwards to insure he not only got a fair trial but the common person looking at the case would agree he got a fair trial. Right now it looks like everything is not quite as it should be.
      Stearns is probably right in thinking no court will find that he should have recused himself. Like cops the judges protect each other for the most part in situations like this. In other words the Court of Appeals will justify his finding that he did not need to recuse himself for the simple reason they will not want to do anything to make him look bad and also they want to end this circus surrounding the Whitey Bulger case since no one looks good. Once Whitey is convicted he knows he has no chance upon appeal that is why he’s gambling on winning at the trial and why Carney is desperately trying to get Stearns off the case because he knows Stearns will take away his one ace card.
      You’re lucky to be in NYC, it’s a great city. I loved when my daughter lived on East 73rd Street near Third Avenue and I could go down and visit with her and spend a few days walking around there. Always would take a long walk down to Russ and Daughters on East Houston Street for some herring.

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