BOSTON — Those who believe their family members were killed by James “Whitey” Bulger will be able to testify at his murder trial but will be limited to sharing basic biographical information rather than emotional stories about their loss that might influence the jury.
That’s just one of the pretrial motions Judge Denise Casper spent nearly four hours sorting through Monday to set the ground rules for the trial that’s expected to last four months. Jury selection begins Tuesday.
In an unexpected turn of events, Bulger’s defense agreed with the prosecution that his FBI informant file should be admitted in the court. And Judge Casper agreed to a motion from the defense to allow the public to attend jury selection.
One of the more feisty moments in the courtroom came when Judge Casper turned to the issue of the defense team talking to the media. The prosecution had asked that Bulger’s attorneys be banned from press conferences — arguing that the defense was trying to accomplish on TV what it couldn’t manage to do in the courtroom.
Judge Casper issued a stern warning to Bulger’s team that moving forward they better not overstep boundaries in talking to the media.
After the pretrial hearing, Bulger’s defense attorney Jay Carney avoided his usual banter outside the courthouse and in a clear sign he had gotten the message simply said, “It’s nice to see all of you again, I hope you have a pleasant evening.”
As jury selection gets underway Tuesday, Judge Casper is still considering a few remaining issues, such as whether to allow mention of a polygraph test for Kevin Weeks. He’s one of Bulger’s former associates and a key witness for the government.
Bulger is accused of playing a role in the murder of 19 people, including Tommy Donahue’s father. Donahue has attended every pretrial hearing.
“With all the motions and everything out of the way, we’re finally here,” Donahue said Monday. “Let’s get this emotional rollercoaster on the way; it’s going to be a long haul.”
Jury selection is likely to take all week as the the court tries to find impartial citizens out of a pool of 675 people.