James “Whitey” Bulger’s lawyer told a federal judge Thursday that the gangster’s right to a fair trial will be violated if the court insists on sticking with a March 4 date, but prosecutors argued that he has already avoided justice for far too long while a fugitive.
After a 15-minute hearing, which Bulger did not attend, US District Judge Richard G. Stearns said he will issue a written ruling in several days on the defense’s request to postpone the trial from March 4 to November 2013.
Boston lawyer J.W. Carney Jr., appointed to represent Bulger a week after his arrest in June 2011, said the amount of evidence turned over by the government — more than 364,000 pages of documents spanning decades — is like nothing he has ever seen, making it impossible to be ready for trial in four months.
“A fair trial before a fair judge does not begin with impanelment of a jury,” Carney said. “It begins with allowing the defense counsel to prepare the case.”
He stressed that Bulger, an FBI informant charged in a sweeping racketeering case that includes charges that he participated in 19 murders, has a constitutional right to adequately prepare for trial. “The true test of our fairness is how the court handles a defendant who has been demonized, as he has,” Carney said.
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