Alleged fugitive mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger on Tuesday greeted the hundreds of people who will potentially decide his fate with a “good morning.”
Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., gave a brief introduction of his client to the potential jurors called to the federal courthouse in South Boston.
“I’m pleased to introduce our client … James Bulger,” Carney said.
“Good morning,” Bulger then said.
“Good morning,” the potential jurors responded.
That exchange ended the first of at least three sessions where Judge Denise Casper introduced the potential jurors to the case.
The jury pool was a mix of men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Many were reading books until prosecutors and defense lawyers walked in along with Bulger. One older man went back to reading his magazine and yawned shortly after Bulger walked in to the jury assembly room.
The 83-year-old former fugitive appeared before them in a long-sleeve T-shirt tucked into his jeans. He wore white sneakers and a belt. He does not have a to wear his standard orange prison jumpsuit during his trial.
Hundreds of people filled out a questionnaire after Casper addressed them. Their answers will then be reviewed by prosecutors and Bulger’s defense team, and jurors who are not excused from service because of their answers will be questioned in person later this week.
After the jury pool introduction meetings, Carney spokes briefly to reporters and said the first stage of the jury selection process will be completed on or about Friday. The second stage would begin after that. That means opening statements, which were scheduled to begin Monday, will likely be pushed back.
As for the potential Bulger trial jurors, Casper repeatedly told the group that Bulger pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and that he is to be presumed innocent.
She also told them not to talk about the case with anyone, including family members, and to avoid media coverage of it until they are excused.
Casper said she intends to seat 18 jurors — including six alternates — and has scheduled opening statements for Monday. That could change depending on how smoothly the jury selection process goes.
As Metro reported earlier this week, despite Bulger’s notoriety, some legal expects believe that a fair and impartial jury with limited knowledge of Bulger and his life can be found to decide the case.
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.
The jury selection process continues Wednesday.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.