Defense lawyer begins 90-day jail term

Wilson sentenced for court outburst

Defense lawyer Barry P. Wilson made his way up the steps of the Suffolk Superior Courthouse yesterday to begin serving a 90-day jail sentence for contempt for a courtroom outburst over what he considered a biased jury selection.

Fiery criminal defense lawyer Barry P. Wilson surrendered Tuesday at Suffolk Superior Court to begin serving a 90-day jail sentence, after a judge found him in contempt of court last year for an outburst during jury selection in a murder trial.

The 62-year-old Wilson, who wore jogging pants and a windbreaker, walked into Courtroom 704, where he was met by court officers and led away as about 20 supporters looked on.

Wilson, whose past clients include former Boston city councilor Chuck Turner, said earlier outside the courthouse that he would not resume his law practice when he is released from the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay.


“Because I’m tired and I’m ready for something else,’’ said Wilson, who wore his gray hair pulled back in his trademark ponytail. “Thirty-seven years leaving your blood and guts in the courtroom.’’ He said he wanted to “just take it easy, man.’’

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Wilson said his experience representing Turner, who was convicted in October 2010 on corruption charges in federal court in Boston, may have influenced his decision to retire. Turner insisted on testifying at trial, against Wilson’s advice.

Wilson, who has previously been jailed for contempt, said he did not fear for his safety behind bars. “Let me put it to you this way,’’ he said. “I never represented a rat.’’

A spokesman for the Suffolk sheriff said inmates serving 90-day terms can have their sentences reduced for good behavior.

During jury selection in the May 2011 murder trial, Wilson lashed out at Suffolk Superior Court Judge Patrick F. Brady for seating a man with a law enforcement background after dismissing a woman who said her two sons had criminal records.


“No way am I going to try a case with that man,’’ Wilson said, according to court records. “That’s ridiculous. Fifteen years a federal agent, and he’s going to be unbiased. Are you kidding me? I can’t do it. I won’t do it. Take my ticket. I don’t really care. This is just plain ridiculous. Ridiculous.’’

Brady later called Wilson’s conduct “the worst that I’ve ever seen in the 22 years of presiding over trial’’ and sentenced him to 90 days in a house of correction, records show.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld Brady’s decision in March, and the state Supreme Judicial Court declined to review the case earlier this month.

In a statement Tuesday, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said Wilson must take responsibility for his tirade.

“Zealous advocacy for a client isn’t a license to disrupt proceedings, abuse opposing counsel, or disrespect judges and jurors,’’ Conley said.


Wilson’s daughter - Ariel Austin-Wilson, 23, of Brighton - said Tuesday that while her father may be “crazy,’’ she is proud of him for standing up for his principles.

‘Because I’m tired and I’m ready for something else.’

Barry P. Wilson Announcing he will retire

“You can’t be mad at him for that,’’ she said.

Jonathan Shapiro, a Boston criminal lawyer who was in court Tuesday to support Wilson, said he was shocked to learn his colleague planned to retire.

“It’ll be a loss to the profession, and it’ll be a loss to the courts as well,’’ Shapiro said.

Wilson, for his part, found a silver lining in the jail sentence before surrendering. “I’ll lose some weight,’’ he said.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.