BOSTON — Lawyers for reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger have criticized a request from prosecutors to do criminal background checks on potential jurors for Bulger’s trial.
His lawyers said in a filing Friday there is no compelling reason to do background checks on potential jurors. They said jurors could see it as a “harassing investigation.”
Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday arguing that background checks could help determine whether potential jurors have truthfully answered questionnaires and would minimize the possibility of a mistrial.
In the filing, prosecutors argued that some federal courts, including the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, have found that criminal background checks of jurors are appropriate.
“As the Court is aware, trial of this matter will likely take several months, consume considerable resources, and have an obvious emotional impact on the victims,” the motion states. “It is thus important to take steps necessary to address potential appellate issues in the first instance.”
Bulger, 83, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is scheduled to go on trial in June on an indictment accusing him of participating in 19 murders. Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 and remained one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.