Notorious Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger showed little emotion yesterday when the 83-year-old was convicted in federal court of 11 killings and other gangland crimes.
“He lost on most major offenses he was charged with,” said Michael Coyne, associate dean of the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover who observed Bulger’s trial for the last two months. Coyne had predicted Bulger would spend the rest of his life in jail.
Coyne and other attorneys praised jurors who spent 32 1/2 hours deliberating 33 counts of murder, racketeering, extortion, money laundering and drug dealing charges. Coyne said jurors were given a 7-page form they had to complete, deliberating on each and every count for the past week.
“They went through it carefully. They took their job seriously ... The jury system here worked effectively,” said Coyne, a Dorchester native who now lives in North Andover.
Coyne provided ongoing commentary for New England Cable News and other media throughout Bulger’s trial.
“The bulk of the charges the government was successful in proving. With such a sweeping indictment there’s much more proof on some of the charges and a lack of proof on others,” he said.
Bulger was primarily charged with racketeering, a catchall offense that included 19 murders he allegedly helped orchestrate or carry out himself during the 1970s and ‘80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s ruthless Irish mob.
After 4 1/2 days of deliberations, jurors found he took part in 11 of those murders, along with nearly all of the other crimes.
Local attorney Neil Faigel, who defends many clients in federal court, praised jurors who listened to and then deliberated upon “so much evidence that spanned so much time ... They lived with the case for so long. They knew all the facts.”
“They had to look at each and every act individually,” said Faigel, noting crimes committed spanned decades and the trial included testimony from 71 witnesses.
After the voluminous verdicts were read yesterday, Bulger turned and gave the thumbs up and smiled at his brother Jack and his two nieces, who were in the courtroom. Coyne described it as a “personal moment” between Bulger and his family.
Meanwhile, Bulger’s defense attorney Jay Carney said afterwards that trial watchers would have been shocked and amazed had they been able to view the proceedings.
“I wish that every citizen who wanted to would have been able to watch this trial on television or on an iPad or on a laptop,” Carney said. “They would have seen things that would educate them about the federal government, that would amaze them, shock them, appall them, and just make them realize there has to be changes. When the cameras can’t be in the courtroom then it’s incumbent upon lawyers to be able to come in front of the courthouse and speak on behalf of their client. It’s very frustrating and I hope that the rule will be changed.”
Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.