Whitey’s Gambit – The Recusal Motion

J.W. Carney has filed a motion which asks Judge Stearns to remove himself as trial judge of Whitey Bulger.  He indicated, according to reports, he’s going to call him as a witness during the motion hearing to question Stearns about his involvement in any cases relating to Whitey while he was in the office.

Carney’s position is that because Stearns was an assistant  US Attorney (AUSA) in the Boston office when Bulger’s status as an FBI informant was known by others in in that office or in the alternative during a time Bulger was a target of that office he cannot be impartial.

During Stearns’s time other AUSAs such as Judge Mark Wolf, FBI Director Mueller, and former Strike Force Head O’Sullivan were there.  William Weld was US Attorney.

Judge Wolf heard the case against Stevie Flemmi.  He had been chief of the public corruption unit.  He didn’t recuse himself nor was he asked.

I initially thought when I heard of the motion “bad idea.”  Stearns is probably as good as any other judge on the bench to handle the case.   Whitey doesn’t want Tauro or Young, both good judges, but they really run a hard ship that constantly plows forward offering little time for respite.  Stearns will take his foot off the pedal on occasion.  As far as the other judges, I don’t think any could be as beneficial to a defendant as Stearns.

Stearns handled Kevin Weeks’s case.  Weeks will be a major witness against Whitey.  Stearns gave Weeks a nice gift of a sentence for his agreement to bear witness against Whitey.  Carney may argue that is some sort of imprimatur that affects Stearns’s impartiality?

I initially thought that this case is going to be a long trial.  Whitey doesn’t have anything else to do with his time but even then, he’d like a day off every once in a while.   It’s a mistake to change judges.

Then I realized Carney’s move is a bluff.  He knows as well as I do that he won’t prevail on the motion. So what is its purpose?

Carney wants to buy some time and get some more media time.  My present thinking is the last thing that Whitey wants is a trial.  What he wants is to strengthen the cards he has in his hands as he works on a deal.

Carney needs the time to go to Oklahoma and Florida and get those states to drop the death penalty case against Whitey and agree to go along with whatever sentence Whitey gets in Boston.

Martorano who actually pulled the trigger in Florida and Oklahoma had Frank DiMento as his lawyer.  DiMento is the best there is and it took him over a year to put the pieces together.  It’ll take Carney a somewhat longer time.

While he’s doing that he wants to keep the pressure on the local judges.  Threatening to call Stearns as a witness is one way to do that.  He’s trying to put the judges in the mindset that they’d like to see the case go away so that they can get down to more meaningful business.

Not that Whitey’s case isn’t meaningful in its own way.  But we all know (even Whitey) that he’s never getting back on the street.  What judge wants to waste his judicial time on an 82 year old guy who is in that position?  We know the ending.