Whitey Bulger: Vigilante or Organized Criminal?

Screen shot 2013-06-18 at 1.35.02 PMWhitey Bulger: a criminal formerly operating in South Boston or, as local myths suggest, local vigilante? Regardless, he was arrested in June 2011 at the age of 81, and last week began standing trial for 19 counts of alleged murder: 17 men and 2 women. In court proceedings so far Bulger and his defense have focused on two points: despite contrary evidence, Bulger was not an FBI informant and secondly, that he did not kill any women. Downplaying his involvement in organized crime, and noting that of the men presented by the prosecution, could Bulger’s defense play off the lingering notion that his actions may in fact have been, as folklore often portrays them, Robin Hood-esque in nature: of pure intention and noble end? We asked Zintro experts specializing in crime and punishment what they thought about underground crime fighting as it relates to the case at hand and the judicial system as a whole.        

Gary Howard, a crime scene investigation and evidence presentation expert,asserts that “Criminal acts can never be justified,” and that if “Mr. Bulger has taken the law into his own hands he is no better than those who he was killing. If anyone has information on criminals they should forward it to the relevant authorities. If they do not listen then speaking to the press and others in the media may help get the message out. We know…there should always be an alternative to killing another human being.”

Stuart D. Meissner Esq., an expert in white collar criminal defense, believes “Whitey Bulger is no vigilante. He is a former hit man, mobster who is no hero. None of the witnesses in this case are role models to look up to.” Meissner warns that “glorifying what they did only encourages the wild west mentality where innocent people will be hurt and killed. This is a no brainer. Just my two cents as a former Manhattan organized crime prosecutor.”

Ann E. Johnston, Esq. has 30 years of experience in commercial litigation. She takes a different approach to the case, reminding those following it: “What you are reading in the news will never contain all the facts necessary to answer the question. His attorney is very, very good and has chosen a defense that may or may not be adopted by the jury. What you are also not seeing or hearing is the masses of work that are going on behind the scenes in preparing for trial. This trial is not TV. It is going to be long process.” Johnston continues, “If, what you are asking me is my opinion as a citizen, I can give you an answer. If you asking me to offer a legal opinion, I can only answer that he is on trial and that a jury will decide. That is the wonder of our society. He is not guilty until proven guilty. If you’re asking what I would do as his attorney, I can only say that I wasn’t hired by him. If that feels unanswered, that is the reality of being a criminal defense attorney. The jury decides, not me. He is entitled to a defense. As a defense attorney, you offer the best that you and he (as client) decide.” She concludes by adding, “For the record, it is difficult to be responsible and civilized in the face of media but, as a strong believer in our judicial system, it is important to resist temptation and wait for the jury’s decision. Anything else is simply being impatient.”

By Gabriela Meller

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