The lawyer for gangster James “Whitey” Bulger has asked that his high-profile trial be put off for a year beyond its scheduled Nov. 5 date, saying they “cannot possibly be prepared” on time.
“Indeed,” lawyer J.W. Carney Jr. said in a 17-page filing Wednesday night, “to maintain that date will eviscerate the defendant’s rights to due process of law and to effective assistance of counsel under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Federal Constitution.”
The court-appointed Carney and his team of lawyers have maintained since Bulger’s arrest in June 2011 that they have been inundated with voluminous evidence in the decades-old case, and that the notorious gangster will certainly go to trial to face racketeering charges, including accusations of murder.
More than 300,000 documents, 30 videos, and 1,000 cassette tapes have to be reviewed, Carney said. That does not include documents the lawyers wish to review on their own, such as the books written by Bulger’s alleged cohorts.
Reviewing the records alone would take them until the spring 2013, Carney said.
Moreover, the lawyer said his ability to discuss the case with Bulger has become problematic: Bulger demands high-security treatment and refuses to discuss the case on the phone with lawyers. He will also not communicate with Carney by mail after learning that his communications were being reviewed by security, including materials labeled “attorney-client privilege.”
“James Bulger has a view, based on his personal experience, that all levels of law enforcement are corrupt and will disregard the law if it suits them,” Carney said.
Prosecutors have argued, however, that Bulger, 82, is trying to postpone his trial. They say that much of the evidence has long been made public and that their strategy for trial has been clear.
Families of Bulger’s alleged victims have also demanded a quick trial.
A hearing on the request to delay the court date has been set for Monday.
“The trial of James Bulger will be fair only if he has an adequately prepared counsel to zealously represent him,” Carney said.
The lawyer also pointed out that some of Bulger’s codefendants had their cases languish for as long as five years, though prosecutors are trying to rush this case in a year.
Bulger’s trial could be the area’s highest-profile criminal proceeding in recent history. The former head of the Winter Hill Gang was one of America’s Most Wanted until his arrest in Santa Monica, Calif., last year, after 16 years on the lam.
He fled after being tipped off about his pending federal racketeering indictment in 1995. He is accused of participating in 19 killings.
His girlfriend, Catherine Greig, was sentenced earlier this month to eight years in federal prison for helping him remain on the lam. Greig, 61, has indicated she may appeal her sentence. She pleaded guilty in March.
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