Whitey Bulger’s Judge Ordered Off the Case

James "Whitey" Bulger

James “Whitey” Bulger

James “Whitey” Bulger, the former gangster facing trial in Boston after years on the lam, scored a major victory last week when the Court of Appeals ordered Judge Stearns off the case. This is one of those “appearance of impropriety” decisions that often control on removal questions. Stearns worked at the prosecutor’s office, as a supervisor, during the time when Bulger was being investigated and was cooperating to some extent with law enforcement. To make matters more complicated, Bulger claims he was given an immunity deal from the prosecutor he was dealing with at the time, and who has since passed away. While Stearns may not have had anything to do with the case at the time, it helps ensure a fair trial, and eliminates an appellate issue for Bulger, which is more cost-efficient in the long run. Former Justice David Souter penned the opinion.


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