Lawyers: Long Bulger deliberations don’t necessarily mean doubt

bulger whitey bulger boston
James “Whitey” Bulger seen in a state police surveillance image taken in 1980.
Credit: US Attorney’s office

A group of 12 men and women are spending this week sitting in a room in South Boston deciding if James “Whitey” Bulger should be found guilty of his alleged crimes.

The jury in the trial of the 83-year-old alleged mob boss, who is accused of instilling fear in the Southie neighborhood, finished its first day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict.

After spending more than five hours deliberating Tuesday, the jury will get back to work Wednesday morning.

Legal experts said that, generally, the longer a jury takes before reaching a verdict, the more favorable it becomes for the defense. However, the Bulger case is complicated and unique with its 32-count indictment.

“They have to stop and look at every single one of those alleged counts and review them so it could take some time,” said Brad Bailey, a former state and federal prosecutor who currently works as a criminal defense lawyer in Boston. “They also have a lot of exhibits to go over.”

More than 70 witnesses testified during more than seven weeks of the trial. Also, more than 800 exhibits were introduced as evidence.

If the jurors remain inside the jury room again on Wednesday, it might be that they are struggling with legal definitions rather than reasonable doubt.

“If the jury is out a long time, I don’t think it’s because they would be possessed with a great deal of reasonable doubt,” said Boston-area attorney William D. Kickham. “Some of these charges concerning racketeering and money laundering can be very complicated for a lay person to understand.”

Whenever the jury does finish with its deliberation, it will likely come back with guilty pleas, lawyers said.

Bailey said the government presented a compelling case and that he believes the evidence went more smoothly than even the prosecutors likely anticipated.

“It would certainly be a surprise if they came back with anything other than guilty verdicts,” said Bailey. “However, you never know, because all it takes is one juror out of 12 to hang up an entire case.”

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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