| BOSTON, June 7
BOSTON, June 7 A lawyer for accused Boston
gangster James "Whitey" Bulger said a newspaper column on Friday
by a journalist named as a potential witness in his trial for 19
murders was a "scathing attack" that could prejudice jurors.
Bulger's defense this week took the unusual step of listing
a half dozen current and former journalists, including Boston
Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, on its list of 82 potential
witnesses. The move would prevent them from covering the trial,
which is scheduled to begin next Wednesday.
Cullen's column said: "The idea that we could provide
exculpatory evidence for Whitey is a joke...I believe Whitey
Bulger is a deeply cynical and vicious criminal who made
millions by killing and intimidating people while he was
protected by a deeply corrupted FBI."
Bulger's attorneys argued in court papers filed on Friday
that the column will only add to the challenge of finding jurors
who have not yet formed an opinion on the case. Bulger's story
inspired Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning movie "The
Departed," and several scenes in the movie were filmed within
blocks of the city's waterfront federal courthouse.
"It is not an exaggeration to assert that anyone who reads
that column will be disqualified as a juror," attorney J.W.
Carney of the Boston law firm Carney & Bassil wrote. "He is not
content to report news; instead, he launches a scathing attack."
Bulger, now 83, is Boston's most notorious living gangster,
and his story has fascinated the city for decades. Typically in
criminal trials, judges instruct jurors to avoid media reports
on the case.
Bulger has pleaded not guilty to all charges and he faces
the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
Bulger is accused of running the city's "Winter Hill" gang
in the 1970s and 80s, a position he protected by working with
corrupt FBI officials, including one who tipped him off in 1994
that arrest was imminent.
That tip caused Bulger to flee the city and he lived in
hiding for 16 years, most of them on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted"
list before he was arrested in a seaside apartment in California
in June 2011.
More than 800 potential jurors have been called to U.S.
District Court in Boston this week, from which attorneys for
each side are working to select a jury of 12 and six alternates.
The defense argued that the journalists might be called on
to testify if other witnesses, including Bulger's criminal
associates, victims and law enforcement personnel, make comments
on the stand that conflict with what they have previously told
Lawyers for the Globe, which is owned by the New York Times
Co, argued earlier that calling journalists as witnesses
would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,
which protects freedom of the press. Witnesses in criminal
trials are typically not allowed to attend those parts of a
trial where they are not testifying.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool)