Prosecution, defense clash over whether James ‘Whitey’ Bulger should testify about supposed immunity deal

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for James “Whitey’’ Bulger jousted today in federal court over whether Bulger should be able to testify in his upcoming trial about the immunity deal he claims he had during his reign of terror in Boston’s underworld.

James “Whitey’’ Bulger when he was booked in June 2011 — at today’s hearing, he was clean-shaven. —AP

US District Judge Richard Stearns had ruled that Bulger couldn’t. But the judge, a former federal prosecutor in Boston, was ordered to step away from the case. Now Judge Denise Casper is in charge and has been asked to reconsider.

Defense attorney Jay W. Carney Jr. said today that if Bulger can’t testify about the alleged deal, he will not get a fair trial. He said that if Bulger doesn’t get a fair trial, it will erode confidence in the judicial system

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Federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak said the defense’s claims were “frivolous.’’

The hearing featured a rare appearance by Bulger. The notorious gangster had shaved the beard he was wearing when captured in California in June 2011. He sat down, wrote notes, and talked with his lawyer. No family members sat in the section reserved for Bulger family members.

Bulger is slated to go on trial June 6 in a case in which he is accused of participating in 19 murders.

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