BOSTON Citing “institutional ties,” a federal appeals court has ruled that the judge set to preside over the murder and racketeering case against longtime Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger must step down.
Removing Judge Richard Stearns could force another delay in the trial currently scheduled for June. The move also brings into question a recent ruling by Stearns that said Bulger could not present evidence to a jury to support his claim that he was given immunity by the government for future crimes.
Monroe Freedman, a judicial ethics expert and law professor at Hofstra University, says a new judge will have to look at that ruling.
“I just don’t understand how that evidence — that the government gave [Bulger] immunity — how that evidence can be excluded,” Freedman said. “That is his defense, that is his right to his day in court and it’s essential to his defense. The court of appeals, without saying it was all true, recognized that there’s very strong evidence.”
Listen to Bob Oakes’ entire Morning Edition interview with Monroe Freedman above.