A major row has erupted after Whitey Bulger’s lead attorney pleaded for his case to be adjourned – as the workload preparing his defence is causing him stress.
J.W. Carney Jr has asked for the trial of the Boston mobster to be moved back from its scheduled November start date.
He told US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler that the sheer work load in preparing Bulger’s case has affected his health.
Carney Jr told the judge that it will be ‘impossible’ for him to read hundreds of thousands of documents turned over by prosecutors by the scheduled trial date of November 5th.
He said he has been working ‘six or seven days a week’ trying to get ready for trial.
His doctors have told Carney Jr to take it easy after noticing the effects of the stress on him.
“The stress on me personally has been enormous,” said Carney.
In response, prosecuting US Attorney Brian Kelly claimed Bulger, accused of participating in 19 murders, is trying to delay the trial and avoid it.
Kelly said many of the documents Carney is referring to have only marginal importance to the case and suggested the complaints are a delay tactic.
“The defendant, Mr. Bulger, is of course trying to avoid trial,” said Kelly before adding that Bulger, now 82, had fled Boston in 1995 and was only apprehended last year after 16 years on the run.
Judge Bowler told Carney Jr that he should notify the court immediately if he is considering withdrawing from the case.
Carney Jr replied: “I’m not considering withdrawing at this point.”
He added: “I plan to submit a formal motion within the next two weeks that will contain all the reasons why the Nov. 5 trial date is so unrealistic.”
After the hearing, Carney Jr denied to local media that Bulger is trying to avoid trial.
“I meet with Jim regularly, and he is very intelligent, very well-read, has an excellent memory and is looking forward to the trial,” said the attorney.
U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns will decide whether the trial will be postponed.
Carney has also asked the court to lift a protective order on discovery material turned over to the defense by prosecutors.
Reports from the Associated Press claim that Carney Jr said in a motion filed in court that the order limits him to talking about the material only to other lawyers on the defense team and to potential witnesses.
The report also states that he argued that all of the material has been in the public eye already because of several high-profile trials of Bulger’s former cohorts.
A hearing on that motion has been scheduled for June 19.