Toll Free (877) 721-4732
Phone (617) 206-1942


Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 206-1942.

Posted On: February 23, 2013

ATTORNEY. SAMS TAKE ON QUESTIONS OF IMMUNITY IN BOSTON'S MULTIPLE MURDER MATTER

In my last posting, I indicated that I would answer some questions regarding the James Whitey Bulger multi murder matter currently pending in federal court. Of course, there are many questions that we all have. I was referring to issues brought up on my last few postings on the matter.

We began with talking about the immunity issue in the case. It did, more recently, occur to me that some people may not know what immunity is, much less whether the government can give it to somebody

Immunity is basically immunity from prosecution. In other words, Whatever you testify about, say in a grand jury, you cannot be prosecuted for. In such cases, the prosecution can, and does, give immunity in return for somebody's testimony. Since the prosecution is the authority that will bring criminal charges, it is only the government, the prosecution, who can give immunity from prosecution. In the Defendant's case, the allegation is that, in return for him giving information, acting as an informant, the government gave him widespread immunity from prosecution..

The Defendant claims that the government said that he is immune from prosecution for the rest of his life no matter what the crime is. Even murder. The government on the other hand is saying that they would not make such a deal ...that to make such a deal which includes murder is against public policy.

This might be a topic for other blogs in the future. But I would like you to think about this right now.

Over the past years, including very recently, we have had situations where in law-enforcement officials have been found not to be living up to their olds and, in fact committing crimes. We have had more than one chemist discovered to be falsify evidence. We have had a detective admitting to stealing evidence from the evidence locker. These are just a couple of examples of what we know about. I will remind you that the government often takes the position when someone is arrested for the first time that the only reason they arrested for the first time is because that was the first time they were caught. Not that it is the first time that they committed the crime.

Apparently, the rules are different when it comes to someone who once worked on their side.

In any case, you may be thinking there is no big revelation here. After all, all these people are simply human beings with human weaknesses and foibles. I would agree with you.

And that is what I want you to think about.

Look at the unfettered power these people have. For the investigator or officer, it is the discretion of whether or not to bring criminal charges very often and what time. In other words, such as the case with marijuana charges, the choice between the non-crime of straight possession of marijuana, merely a citation, and the felony charge of possession with intent to distribute. Is also the people who are able to decide whether not to give someone immunity and what kind of immunity.

My problem is that we take it for granted that they will always make the right decision and that anybody who stands against them is a "bad guy".

You may also be wondering why the issue of Judge Stearns, who is presently sitting on the case, is the judge of the case. And what the big deal about that is.

Actually, the problem with it is for the same reason.

Nobody is attacking judge Stearns as a man, or, really, a judge. However, even with the best of intentions, he remains a human being.

During the time the Defendant either was or was not an informant for the government, Judge Stearns was not a judge. He was a federal prosecutor in the very office which either did or did not give the Defendant immunity.

If, at trial, a potential juror informed the attorneys and judge that she had worked with defense attorney's office during the time in which the facts at issue arose and, while she does not specifically recall the facts, it was one of the major fact scenarios going on in the office at the time, do you really think that juror would be allowed on the jury?

That is the big deal. Even taking the judge at his word on this, that he has no such independent knowledge on the debate, he certainly had knowledge as to the policies and procedures of the office as well as what they may have done in other, similar, cases. We also do not know whether evidence that comes out during hearings or the trial could trigger other memories in the judge as well that could affect his judgement.

He is, after all, supposed to be completely impartial. He is supposed to make his rulings, like the jury, based upon the evidence and the law.

How Is potentially going to be the trial judge on this case, much less the judge on the motion regarding immunity coming into the trial, is beyond reason.

But, hey, what do I know? I've only been working in the system for about 6000 years. Anyway, enough from me.

Now is the chance for you to pose these questions to me. My direct email address is Attygoldberg@aol.com. I invite you to send me these questions. I will answer What I can of them next Friday, March 1st in my blog.

In the meantime, we will move on to other issues.

Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!