James ‘Whitey’ Bulger judge walks a fine line

Boston, MA 5/3/12 US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper (cq) is photographed in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse (cq), on Thursday, May 3, 2012. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff); Reporter: Milton Valencia; Section: Business; Slug: 10judge
US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper is relatively new to the bench.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

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In perhaps the most high-profile trial Boston has seen, US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper, 45, a judge of fewer than three years, has had the ultimate task in tending to jurors, monitoring an angry defendant, and settling emotional lawyers while also entertaining their arguments in what has become a legal back-and-forth over 25 days of testimony.

More challenges lie ahead as Bulger’s lawyers begin to present his defense this week. The gangster has indicated that he may testify, putting him and his legacy in a historic spotlight. If he takes the stand, already palpable tensions could erupt.

After 30 days of often-heated testimony, Casper has proven ready for the challenge, according to legal observers, who say she has been able to walk a fine line between taking too much control and letting a complex trial unspool.

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