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1st Cir Says Justice Has Been Served for Whitey Bulger

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 11, 2016 10:17 AM

Justice has been served and nothing that happened at the lower federal level warranted a reversal of James "Whitey" Bulger's convictions arising out of his participation with 11 murders and his East Coast criminal enterprise.

One of the issues critical to the case concerned Bulger's claim that he was promised immunity by the former federal prosecutor. The First Circuit Court affirmed the lower court decision and found that Bulger failed to prove that the promise ever took place.

James "Whitey" Bulger

James Bulger is serving two consecutive life sentences in a Florida facility after being convicted with multiple murders and conspiracies arising out of his organized crime enterprise in New England. Bulger's story is immortalized, with artistic license, in the Johnny Depp picture "Black Mass."

No Testimony as to Immunity Claim

Bulger claimed that the prosecutor mentioned above, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, promised him immunity in exchange for testimony that eventually secured his convictions. O'Sullivan died in 2009. In that case, however, Judge Denise Casper decided to review the factual issues of this supposed promise of immunity before the case actually went before trial.

In the opinion of the circuit, such practices were usually "more the norm than the exception." In the end, it was determined that Bulger presented "no evidentiary support" of Sullivan's promise and further O'Sullivan would have had no authority to issue such a promise.

Sham Trail, Bulger Claims

Bulger, 86, disputed the government's characterizing him as an informant for the FBI who passed information about a rival gang, the New England Mafia, and generally disagreed not only with the facts of the case, but also the overall tenor of the legal proceedings. "[M]y thing is, as far as I'm concerned, I didn't get a fair trial, and this is a sham," Bulger said in open court.

The ruling by the First Circuit doesn't foreclose every option for Bulger who still has an opportunity to petition to have the decision review by the full panel of six judges.

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