Narrowing down a group of more than 700 people to 18 fair and impartial jurors to decide the fate of alleged mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger is taking longer than scheduled.
The attempt to find the best jurors in the case have pushed back the start of the trial, and a new schedule was outlined Wednesday.
Both sides and the judge will review the jury questionnaires for the rest of this week. Jurors who are not excused because of the answers on their questionnaire will be called back for in-person interviews on Monday. Both prosecutors and Bulger’s lawyers will then on Tuesday be able to challenge a limited number of the qualified jurors who don’t fit into their strategies.
On Wednesday, prosecutors and Bulger’s lawyer should be able to give their opening statements. Opening statements were originally scheduled for Monday, but Judge Denise Casper gave both sides more time to review jury questionnaires.
Hundreds more potential jurors filed into the federal courthouse in South Boston on Wednesday and were again introduced to the case. Casper gave the same instructions as she did to other jury groups on Tuesday, and again Bulger was introduced by his lawyer.
“Good morning,” Bulger said while standing before the group and nodding. He added another “good morning” before sitting down again.
Bulger wore the same outfit Wednesday as he did Tuesday:a dark long-sleeve T-shirt tucked into jeans. He also wore a brown belt, white sneakers and glasses.
Also Wednesday, lawyers argued over some unresolved issues, including whether some reporters on Bulger’s witness list should be sequestered and if certain statements by federal prosecutors during other trials related to the Bulger case can be used in the upcoming trial.
Casper took the further arguments under advisement and did not indicate when she would rule on those matters.
The 83-year-old was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Bulger fled after corrupt FBI agent John Connolly tipped him off just before his indictment for various crimes including racketeering, extortion and 19 murders.
For updates throughout the Bulger trial follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.