James “Whitey” Bulger’s lawyers will have 15 minutes Monday to try to persuade an appeals court that the gangster did not get a fair trial, a miscarriage of justice that would warrant the reversal of his conviction for killing 11 people while running a sprawling criminal organization.
The lawyer, Hank Brennan, went before a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston to challenge the conviction of Bulger, 85, on charges including committing or ordering 11 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge found that Bulger offered no hard evidence.
He also argued that prosecutors did not turn over information about certain details of an agreement he says they had with a hit man who was a key witness against Bulger.
Bulger told the judge he was prevented from proving that the prosecutor, Jeremiah T. O’Sullivan, promised him immunity in return for “my protection of his life”.
Federal prosecutors, represented by assistant US attorney Randall Kromm, are expected to argue that Bulger never produced any evidence that an immunity deal existed. His case became an embarrassment for the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it was revealed that a corrupt agent took bribes from him and shielded him from prosecution.
“Bulger’s claim that the district court violated his constitutional rights by precluding him from testifying as to an alleged immunity agreement with a federal prosecutor is meritless”, they wrote in a filing ahead of Monday’s hearing. He told the judge he felt he’d been “choked off from having an opportunity to give an adequate defense”. He fled Boston in 1995 and remained one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011.
Davis’s brother, Steve, said he would like to see Bulger retried for his sister’s murder, but doesn’t believe the gangster should win a new trial on the grounds that he didn’t get to present his immunity claims to the jury.
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