US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper today refused to sequester jurors in the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, saying from the bench that she was “not inclined to inconvenience these jurors.”
She said a sequestration order without advance notice to the jurors, who have been listening to testimony for some 30 days, could interfere with any plans they may have made since being chosen to sit on the high-profile trial.
Bulger’s lawyers had asked for a sequestration order, saying court rules allow for it in sensational and highly publicized cases.
Casper said that, “I think we can agree this certainly is one.”
She acknowledged Bulger’s lawyers arguments that the media has written much about the case, but said the articles they cited alleging bias, hyperbole, and prejudice were written from one columnist with The Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen.
“I don’t think these articles are representative” of the entire media, she said.
However, she said, she retained the discretion on whether to order that jurors be sequestered.
Also today, a former FBI agent and assistant special agent in charge of the agency’s Boston office was subjected to blistering cross-examination by a federal prosecutor, who alleged that the agent exaggerated stories and told lies.
Robert Fitzpatrick, who authored a book, “Betrayal,” about FBI corruption, was the defense’s first witness and described corruption in the Boston FBI office in the 1980s.
“I’m trying to show people the truth of what happened in this period,” Fitzpatrick said.
He also testified that Bulger told him he was not an informant, one of the key points Bulger has been trying to make in the trial.
But Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly cited inconsistencies between Fitzpatrick’s testimony, what he has said in other court proceedings, and what Fitzpatrick wrote in his own book.
Kelly also pointed out that Fitzpatrick was one of the top supervisors in the Boston office in the early 1980s, when Bulger committed many of his alleged murders.
“Weren’t you more concerned about your own bureaucratic career than rocking the boat?” Kelly said.