Court removes judge from Bulger trial
BOSTON (WHDH) -- After months of arguing, the judge who was set to preside over the trial of accused gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger has been taken off the case.
"We waited too long…who cares about Bulger? Let’s just move ahead. The victims have suffered long enough,” said Stephen Rakes, alleged Bulger extortion victim.
The decision to remove Judge Richard Stearns came from former Supreme Court Justice David Souter, sitting in on the appellate court.
Bulger’s lawyer argued that Judge Stearns couldn't be impartial because he worked as a federal prosecutor at the time the alleged mob boss was carrying out a deadly crime spree.
Bulger has also argued that prosecutors gave him immunity to commit the crimes.
Justice Souter says Judge Stearns may truly believe he can be impartial but “it is clear that a reasonable person might question the judge's ability to preserve impartiality through the course of this prosecution and the likely rulings made necessary by the immunity claim."
Family members of Bulger's alleged victims say they're actually glad to see the ruling.
“I wanted it because in the end with this case, if Stearns was on the bench, the ruling for an appeal would’ve been granted. The guy’s sick. I feel like he’s not going to make it to trial,” said Steven Davis, whose sister was allegedly murdered by Bulger.
Legal analysts say a new judge should be ready to begin the Bulger trial as scheduled June 6. The defense has said they won’t request a delay.