Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Must Stress The Impossibility Of Whitey Being Seen To Have Had A Fair Trial

Southern Sky

I’ve written over the past four days how Whitey Bulger’s lawyer J.W. Carney’s attempt to have Judge Stearns removed from Whitey’s trial has to be tightened up a bit. If not it is likely the Appeals Court will slip away from having to decide the issue of Judge Stearns’s unwillingness to recuse himself.  It will say the matter is not ripe for decision.

Carney must remind the Appeals Court of an earlier decision in which it stated: “The Supreme Court has recently observed that “[n]o right ranks higher than the right of the accused to a fair trial.” 

Carney has to show that not only is the accused entitled to a fair trial but that the public believes that the accused has received a fair trial. (Reading that decision and considering all the publicity surrounding Whitey makes it extremely doubtful he can ever be brought to trial. It is even doubtful the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit can decide this matter impartially because of all the civil matters and criminal matters it has heard in which it accepted and adopted Whitey’s demonizing.  Shouldn’t consideration be given to moving the case to another circuit? )

It is true that a person could be tried fairly behind closed doors. Yet we do not allow our trials to be carried out in secrecy. Our system of government requires our trials to be open to scrutiny by the public. The purpose of this is to show that the accused is being treated fairly and in accordance with the rule of law. So not only must a trial be legally fair it must be seen as fair.

I’ve shown how it was well-known by U.S. Attorney William Weld that Whitey was a top criminal, an FBI informant, and a target being actively investigated by his office in an electronic surveillance operation lasting several months. When Weld knew this, Judge Stearns was one of his top assistants in the criminal division.

All this seems to point to the inappropriateness of asserting the high importance of an accused being given a fair trial while at the same time having a leading member of a prosecutor’s office that was targeting the accused sitting as a judge on his case. And I’m not discussing this from the point of view of the public which has already been shown to question the wisdom of having this judge sit. I’m talking of the federal judiciary itself that seems blind to what most people believe that having a member of a prosecutor’s office that had targeted a defendant later sitting on his case is consonant with the idea of a fair trial. Rather it seems to take the idea of a fair trial and trashing it.

Add to that the notion that this judge is going to decide an issue that will determine whether he, his close friend Bob Mueller who worked with him, and his boss Bill Weld will have to be witnesses at the trial. The judge may be perfectly correct in his decision that this matter is a legal matter for him to decide and not for a jury. If he does, this makes it more tragic because most people will believe he had an ulterior motive for doing this due to his close connection to the case.

Judge Wolf demonstrates in his 661 page memorandum the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office had to know of Whitey’s status as an informant. Bill Weld went to DC to become head of the criminal division. In early January 1988 Weld’s secretary received a series of calls from Susan Murray who was passing on information from her husband Joe about Whitey and FBI Agent Connolly.  Joe was a large-scale marijuana dealer who was paying Whitey in the six figures to use warehouses in South Boston to store his merchandise.

Susan told Weld’s secretary in her first two calls that came separated by two weeks that she had information on corrupt law enforcement officials working with Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi and that FBI Agent Connolly was selling information to Whitey about wiretaps. Weld wrote after the second call: “I knew all this. So this woman is on the up-and-up.”

Weld had to know it from the time he was in Boston. It can be inferred that the top-level of his staff must have also known it.

Susan called a third time a week later. She said Whitey Bulger and Pat Nee killed Brian Halloran and she had an eyewitness. A week later she called again and said Whitey and Nee kidnapped and murdered Bucky Barrett. She told why they did it and where it was done.

After this call Weld dictated a memo ordering  that all the information he received go to the Boston Office saying: “Both O’Sullivan and Bob Mueller are well aware of the history, and the information sounds good.”

This clearly shows that the information on Bulger was possessed by Weld and the people who had worked with him, the head of the Strike Force O’Sullivan and the head of his criminal division, Mueller, who was a close friend and workmate of Judge Stearns. The public will find it difficult to accept that Stearns as a top guy in the criminal division was kept out of the loop on this.

The idea of a fair trial is empty if the public does not believe a person received one. Why in a case of such importance will the public be left with that impression?


9 thoughts on “Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Must Stress The Impossibility Of Whitey Being Seen To Have Had A Fair Trial

  1. I think it’s important for lawyers throughout Mass. to stress the need for fair trials, not just for Whitey. How about all of the people who were egregiously impacted by Whitey and Catherine’s acts over the years? They deserve fair trials as well. And she’s not as innocent as you depict her, I suspect.

    1. Fair Observer:
      The fair trial rights go the the accused not to the people impacted by their acts. You can’t expect those people who had their loved ones injured or murdered to be concerned whether the accused gets a fair trial. If I were in their position I certainly wouldn’t care one way or the other about the niceties of Whitey receiving a fair trial. They just want him brought to trial and punished. I had to deal with victims and they perceive the accused as a monster who is entitled to nothing.
      I don’t say Catherine Greig is innocent. I’m suggesting that the punishment she received is far beyond what she deserved. I’m sure she knew Whitey was a gangster but what exactly did she know of his actions. As I suggested in his post, we are dealing with Whitey from a post 1997 point of view. What did Catherine Greig know of his life in 1995? It seemed few knew back then how bad Whitey was alleged to be and these were his gangster friends who started talking in the late Nineties. Thanks for you input.

  2. thanks for your reply . as i think about it yes the decency of so many good massachusetts police officers i am sure that is what kept them from shooting down whitey. plus it is all pretty much said and done now as far as trying to figure out what happened and when . whitey did lead a smart low profile life. regards

    1. Norwood Born:
      Few cops want to be like the criminals. There are always a few bad apples in every group but rarely will a cop ever engage in murdering a gangster because he doesn’t like what he’s doing.

  3. i thank the author for responding to my comment yesterday. i think people who follow the whitey bulger saga closely over the years believe that the mass state police, dea, quincy police all took hard runs at whitey bulger many times over many years with mixed results. i brought up kevin white and the boston police because i have never read and heard anything about them going after whitey hard like other police agencies you may have read a book called legends of winter hill. i always thought the man written about in that book or some other veteran police officer like mr odonovan of the mass state police would try to get whitey the hard way meaning kill him. i realize that is easy to say from the safety of my computer. what are your thought on the lack of the irs getting anything on whitey over the years? i am sure his tax returns did not list all his income thanks once again for the blog.

    1. Norwood Born:
      There’s a myth that exists that was spread by Howie Carr who nothing about our investigations of Whitey and even perpetuated by the book by state police colonel Tom Foley that somehow law enforcement in MA was not interested in chasing after Whitey because it feared Billy Bulger. This is totally wrong because I worked with guys who did go after him. The Massachusetts State Police (Lancaster Street) were not shy about going after him. Neither was the Quincy police because under Lieutenant Rowell it had a pretty effective organized crime unit that had targeted Whitey way back in 1976. I operated with both the state police and Quincy police and other units in Norfolk County (also DEA) over time. Whitey lived in Quincy for some of the time. The 302s filed by John Connolly showed that Whitey complained frequently about the Norfolk DA’s office where I worked and the Quincy police. We were disliked because we were doing continuing wiretaps (more than all other DAs and U.S. attorneys in MA combined) on his money making gaming operations and taking them down.
      I also worked with O’Donovan. O’Donovan was an excellent cop who was not afraid of anyone except perhaps the FBI which he felt could undermine him. Having worked with the people who went after Whitey what you have to understand is they played by the rules because they were good cops. If they couldn’t get Whitey doing it legally then so be it. None of them that I knew would ever even consider for one second committing a crime like killing Whitey. That’d make them just like him which they did not want to be.
      The IRS is a strange organization. When I first started out I did some White Collar Crime stuff and would refer cases to it that I thought were open and shut showing a person never paid taxes. Nothing would happen. Eventually I stopped doing it. It had its own priorities. Your question why it never did anything against Whitey is because it couldn’t. I’m sure Whitey filed his tax returns every year and showed a little income. Remember, Whitey was not like some of the other gangsters showing a lot of cash. He led a disciplined life and hid his wealth. Therefore the IRS could not do a net worth investigation showing he had more money than he was reporting because they couldn’t show it. A disciplined, non-showy life presents a problem for the IRS.
      You mentioned the five people or entities you thought were responsible for Whitey not being arrested in 46 years. You have to tie into that the idea that Whitey was extremely disciplined. Dick Bergeron the Quincy cop who was continually devising plans to get Whitey told me he was very much a creature of habit and never let his guard down. He’d enter his condo which was bugged and would immediately turn up the stereo if he was talking to anyone.

  4. the stupid thing is that I think a lot of people thought this would all be over once he was eventually shuffled through the court system and tried. WRONG ! it’s just beginning and this whole recuse thing and the ” I do not recall ” and ” I wasn’t aware of that ” is just about to begin when we go to trial. I am astonished at how tangled and messy this has become and the trial hasn’t even started yet ! oh man, this is going to be ugly ! and the poor family’s that have to witness this horrible mess of a case. I just can’t believe how the truth is/will be covered up and the buck being passed back and forth, never stopping with anyone.

    1. CraigMack:
      The recusal problem is really unnecessary. Stearns could simply step down and it will go away In a sense this case is unique because there have been several civil actions in which the evidence was that Whitey killed certain of the victims who were awarded damages by the court based on that. The Court of Appeals has already concluded he committed the murders. One may argue the burden to show he murdered someone in a civil case is only by a preponderance of the evidence and in a criminal case it’s beyond a doubt, but in Whitey’s situation where there have been several civil cases concluding he murdered these people it is going to be hard for the Court of Appeals to do other than to uphold any jury that finds him guilty.
      What’s needed is a judge like Joe Tauro who has no connection to this matter. who has a ton of experience, and who could handle the case with ease and bring it to a quick conclusion. He handled FBI Agent Connolly’s case and no one complained about the fairness of that trial.

  5. The Supreme Court has recently observed that “[n]o right ranks higher than the right of the accused to a fair trial”. Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court of California, 104 S.Ct. at 823. This 6th Amendment Right appears to be very much at risk in USA v Bulger.

    The same can be said for NH V Jean Allan. In that matter, the State of New Hampshire’s prosecutor Robert Libby made certain that Allan was Ordered ‘not competent’ to stand trial. Why was that? Could it have been to silence her testimony? If John Iuele is aka Whitey Bulger, then perhaps the answer to this question is YES!

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