Although the week has been bumpy in terms of blogs (sorry about that), Attorney Sam’s Take has been discussing the theatrics and legal maneuvering of the multiple murder matter of James “Whitey” Bulger (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Meanwhile, there was alittle drama taking place behind the scenes, far from the halls of federal justice.

Apparently, the Defendant was quietly examined at a Plymouth hospital last week for an irregular heartbeat. For some reason, it has been considered one of the top stories for Massachusetts today.

Perhaps it is because people wonder if health issues are going to prevent the Defendant’s date with a trial jury currently slated for this coming June. There has not been, yet, any suggestion that the defense will not be ready for trial as a result of said health issues however.

I found it particularly interesting how this news came to light. Apparently, the Defendant had written to a longtime friend of his last week letting him know about the incident and indicating that “Exercise is over for me.”

The significance of the exercise is that he had previously claimed that he had been doing more than 100 push-ups a day to stay fit while in isolation.

I should tell you, by the way, that it is not unusual at all for inmates to spend a great time building up their bodies while in custody. First of all, it gives them something to do. Second, it helps to offset the carbo-rich non-gourmet meals that are served therein. Finally, it helps one’s safety quotient behind bars to be seen as strong and tough.

For folks such as the Defendant, there is an additional reason. He is being held in solitary confinement, no doubt for his safety and the perceived safety of others. Therefore, it makes sense that he saw the push-ups as important in order to stay fit while in isolation.

At 83 years of age, I would imagine that “fit” is a relative term.

While he has always been a physical fitness buff, the Defendant has for decades suffered from a common ailment that prompts him to take Atenolol, a beta blocker used to treat high blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart.

The Defendant has complained that since his capture in June 2011, he is only let out of his cell for an hour a day five days a week, is fed cold food through a slot in the door, and has no access to television or radio.

“Lots of time to think,” he wrote in the letter. “So far I’ve had a year and a half and a lifetime to go. This is the end of the trail for me.”

I cannot help but find it ironic that, for a man who’s life was necessarily shrouded in secrecy, the Defendant is sending letters to a long-time friend who seems to have little regard for privacy.

The letters have made their way directly to the press…and, clearly, not by accident.

On the other hand, the friend is using the letters to blast federal authorities about the Defendant’s pretrial conditions. He claims that the conditions amount to pretrial punishment that are causing his friend’s health to deteriorate.

“I think what they’re doing to him is going to eventually kill him; that’s my worry,” the friend said during a telephone interview with the Boston Globe Wednesday from his home in a Pittsburgh suburb. “And that might be what they want; who knows? . . . I don’t think they are dealing fairly or humanely with him and that’s my concern.”

The Defendant’s lawyer, the estimable J.W. Carney Jr., however has not been critical of the conditions under which the Defendant is being held. In fact, he told the Globe, “Sheriff [Joseph] McDonald and Superintendent [Brian] Gillen have been very professional in the pretrial detention of my client, an inmate in his 80s who presents particular ­issues, and they have been respon­sive to them …I am confident at this time that my client will be mentally and physically ready to begin trial on June 6.”

He declined to comment further on the Defendant’s health.

Let’s wrap up this week’s discussions of Whitey tomorrow with a few questions that might be on your mind with this week’s postings.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to

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