Bulger lawyer says prosecutors hampering defense
BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for mobster James “Whitey” Bulger on Friday accused prosecutors of vilifying Bulger, while prosecutors said the defense is trying to influence potential jurors by denigrating witnesses.
The two sides traded accusations during a contentious hearing in U.S. District Court.
Attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said the U.S. Attorney’s Office “demonized” Bulger — the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang — during the nearly 17 years he was a fugitive, “to an extent never before seen in New England.” Carney said his comments to reporters simply repeat what he says in court. He said a complaint by prosecutors that he is trying to influence the jury pool “doesn’t even pass a laugh test.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly accused Carney of violating a local rule of U.S. District Court which prohibits attorneys from releasing information or opinion if there is a “‘reasonable likelihood” that it will interfere with a fair trial. Prosecutors said in court documents they believe Carney has impugned the credibility of government attorneys and law enforcement officials when speaking to reporters.
Kelly asked Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler to order Carney to comply with the rule. Bowler instructed both Carney and Kelly to review the rule. After Carney said he has not violated the rule, Bowler reminded Carney to “re-read the rule and refresh your recollection of it.”
Bulger is awaiting trial for allegedly participating in 19 murders. The trial is set to begin in March, but the defense has repeatedly complained that prosecutors have flooded it with hundreds of thousands of documents in a disorganized and redundant way, making it difficult for them to prepare for the trial.
Bulger’s attorney has said he will take the stand in his own defense at his trial to testify that someone within the U.S. Department of Justice gave him immunity to commit crimes while he was an FBI informant against the Mafia, his gang’s main rival.
Bulger, now 82, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., last year after fleeing Boston in late 1994, just before he was indicted.
Another one of Bulger’s lawyers, Hank Brennan, complained that the more than 350,000 pages of discovery material turned over by prosecutors is filled with multiple copies of the same document, which has significantly slowed the defense as it prepares for trial. Brennan said the discovery included 45 different versions of one particular document.
Bowler said she was satisfied that prosecutors had properly followed discovery rules and produced more evidence than required under the rules. She said it is up to the defense to organize the documents in its own way.
“To me, that’s trial preparation,” she said. “It will take time, but that’s your job.”
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