Judge considers range of victims for Bulger sentencing
BOSTON — When a jury in August found Boston Mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger guilty of 11 murders and 31 racketeering counts, the verdict left eight families hungry for more justice. Their loved ones' deaths, the jury found, couldn't be tied to Bulger.
Now, with Bulger's sentencing hearing coming up in federal court on Wednesday, these frustrated survivors might get the last word. Prosecutors hope at least some of them will get to tell the court how Bulger victimized them.
That prospect, however, has at least one juror crying foul, defense attorneys pushing back and legal experts warning that such an uncommon procedure could backfire by strengthening Bulger's grounds for appeal.
Judge Denise Casper is considering a prosecution request to permit “all victims” to give impact statements at the upcoming hearing.
Bulger's attorneys have fired back, urging the court to “reject the United States Attorney's Office's invitation to disrupt the findings of the jury.”
Bulger trial juror Janet Uhlar has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate what she calls “a threat to U.S. jurisprudence.”
Legal experts say Casper has discretion to permit a narrow or wide range of impact statements. They add that no matter who's permitted to speak, 84-year-old Bulger is all but certain to spend the rest of his days in prison. Prosecutors are asking for two consecutive life sentences, plus five years, in accordance with sentencing guidelines.
To allow victim impact statements from those not linked to the defendant's crimes would be extremely rare, according to Michael Coyne, associate dean of Massachusetts School of Law in Andover.
If the prosecution prevails, the government's image might get a boost among those who were hurt, especially during the 1970s and '80s by Bulger's Winter Hill Gang, Coyne said. Such victims have long resented how the government did little to bring the gangsters to justice, instead taking bribes and agreeing to generous deals with Bulger associates.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ohio cop indicted on murder charge in traffic-stop shooting
- Hope dims for Fla. teens lost at sea
- Family finds $1M gold treasure in Florida
- Cat found alive aboard sunken boat pulled from Lake Havasu
- They still have snow in Buffalo
- Clinton focuses on economy’s future in speech
- Cruz chided over remarks in prelude to Ex-Im Bank vote
- Republicans seek firing of IRS chief in feud over missing emails
- Medicare patients’ outcomes improve
- Congress embraces highway bill
- House skeptical but reserved on Iran deal