Judge mulling whether to delay trial for James ‘Whitey’ Bulger until November 2013

A federal judge is mulling a defense request to push the trial date for James “Whitey” Bulger back to November 2013, a delay a federal prosecutor said is not needed since Bulger already avoided trial by being a federal fugitive for 16 years.

FILE - This June 23, 2011 file booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James "Whitey" Bulger, who was captured in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig. A federal magistrate judge on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 set a Nov. 5 trial date for Bulger, rejecting a plea from his lawyers for more time to prepare. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service, File) whiteyglobebook ///
James “Whitey” Bulger

Bulger did not attend today’s hearing before US District Judge Richard G. Stearns, who was asked by Bulger defense attorney J.W. Carney, Jr.to drop the current trial date of March 4.

Carney is arguing that Bulger’s constitutional right to a fair trial is being undercut by the March trial date because it does not give the defense enough time to properly review the 364,000 pages of documents released to them by federal prosecutors.

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“A fair trial before a fair judge does not begin with empanelment of a jury,’’ said Carney. “It begins with allow ingthe defense counsel to prepare the case.’’

But Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly told Stearns that Bulger has already gotten a continuance—the 16 years Bulger spent on the run after being tipped off by a corrupt FBI agent that he was facing indictment.

Kelly said the trial date is a fair one, especially since the trial involves allegations of “murder and mayhem’’ and is not a complex, scientifically-based prosecution.

“No one is rushing this case,’’ Kelly said.”We think the defendant is continually stalling.’’

Outside the courthouse, Carney responded to complaints from relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims that Bulger will not live long enough to stand trial. Carney, noting he has visited Bulger often, said his client is in good health, “has an excellent memory,’’ and is looking forward to testifying at his own trial.

Stearns expects to issue an order within the next several days.

Bulger is slated to stand trial in a sweeping federal racketeering case that includes charges that he participated in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.

He had been a fugitive for 16 years, one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, when he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 22, 2011, along with his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig. Greig was sentenced in June to eight years for conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, and identity fraud.