BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have asked a judge to deny a request from reputed Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger to postpone his murder trial for a year.
Bulger, who spent years on the FBI’s most wanted list, turns 83 in September. He has pleaded not guilty to 19 murder charges, which date from the 1970s and 1980s.
Bulger’s attorney this week asked that the trial on charges related to 19 alleged murders be delayed to November 2013, saying the defense “cannot possibly be prepared.”
“To maintain that date will eviscerate the defendant’s rights to due process of law and to effective assistance of counsel under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Federal Constitution,” J. W. Carney, Bulger’s court-appointed lawyer, said in a filing late Wednesday.
Prosecutors responded on Thursday, disputing Carney’s claim that the review of discovery materials -- some 300,000 pages of documents, 31 videos and more than 1,000 audio tapes - was a “Herculean task.”
“The government has offered many times to meet with defense counsel to ‘walk him through’ the discovery in the case,” U.S. prosecutors said in a filing on behalf of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, terming the materials “well organized.”
“Instead, defense counsel prefers to wallow in confusion, and to complain.”
Bulger and long-time girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested on June 22, 2011, at their apartment hideout in California after more than 16 years on the run.
Bulger fled Boston in late 1995 after getting a tip from a corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation official that a federal racketeering indictment was pending.
Greig was sentenced this month to eight years in prison for her role in helping Bulger evade justice and is expected to appeal.
Families of Bulger’s alleged victims have demanded a quick trial given Bulger’s age. Prosecutors noted that some family members “have passed away while the defendant walked the beaches of Santa Monica.”
Bulger’s case inspired Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Academy Award-winning film, “The Departed.”
The case is United States v. James J. Bulger, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 99-10371.
Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jim Loney