Matt Connolly's Views on Boston, the Nation and the World

Emphasizing Criminal Justice and Politics

Originally dedicated to the vagaries of matters involving Whitey Bulger and the FBI but now expanded into more general topics.

Matt Connolly's Views on Boston, the Nation and the World - Emphasizing Criminal Justice and Politics

Whitey’s Appeal: Don’t Hold Your Breath

Florida JusticeThe New York Times writing about the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision that came down on April 21, 2014, in a case said: “The decision reversed a January 2013 ruling by Judge Colleen McMahon of Federal District Court in Manhattan, . . . “ Did you notice anything about that which made you scratch your head? If not I guess it didn’t bother you that it took 15 months for a decision to be rendered on an appeal. But that’s what happens in federal court, things drag on forever. Just be thankful you’re not spending the time in the can waiting for the decision. Judges have no desire nor need for haste. I mention this because those who are wondering when the outcome of the appeal in Whitey’s case will come down must plan to be patient. I checked out the appeal and I have found the following: The case was entered into the First Circuit Court of Appeals in late 2013 – either late November or December. On January 15, 2014, the transcripts of the trial were filed. Then at the end of January, Whitey being broke, he asked that the court appoint Hank Brennan to handle his appeal. I guess this was approved. On February 26, 2014, another motion was filed asking for additional counsel to be appointed. On March 5 the court appointed James Budreau as additional counsel for the appeal and approved an interim payment to him to handle this matter. On March 10 additional transcripts were filed but these seem to be under some sort of seal. Also on March 10 the court set the briefing schedule, Whitey was to file his brief by April 21 and the government had 30 days to respond. On March 18 Whitey asked for additional time to file his brief, he’s in no rush since he’s never going to see the street again no matter what happens with the case. On March 24 the court entered an order requiring Whitey to file his brief by June 23, 2014, giving him a two month extension. The prosecutors will have until July 23 or thereabouts to respond to it. So the case will not be argued until some time in the fall. The court (three judges) will then read the briefs and consider the arguments, discuss the matter among themselves and will probably have a decision on the case some time late this year or early next year. When the brief is filed I’ll give you an idea what the arguments are. I assume the only one that you’ll want to hear about is Whitey’s expected complaint that the judge prevented Whitey from presenting evidence that he had been given immunity to murder any person he wanted to and that if he had already murdered people he got immunity for those murders too. I suppose it is even more than that, I guess he wants the Court of Appeals to take the position that not only did a former federal prosecutor give him immunity for all his past and future murders but also for all the other charges he was convicted of such as the gun and money laundering charges. His position is actually quite absurd. The only thing more absurd is the attorneys representing him will argue that a person can be given this type of immunity by a prosecutor. I don’t see the judges really given serious consideration to the argument. But what’s good about the Court of Appeals is the judges usually will patiently listen to anything that is argued unlike some other appeals courts where the judges will tell you straight out that you argument is absurd. I know that because I appeared before the First Circuit many years ago representing a local Teamsters Union that had appealed a finding by the National Labor Relations Board. Its appeal was totally without merit but the partner did not want to lose the Teamsters as a client so he told me, a young associate, to go forward with the appeal. I had little choice. I expected all hell to break loose when I made my pitch to the judges but they took it in stride, probably because of my youth, and sportingly let me off the hook without any tongue lashing. The attorney representing the other side was not so kind but that was to be expected. I remember it was during his argument that he seemed to delight in repeated pointing out the parts of my argument he described as “disingenuous.” Anyway, don’t expect much before the end of the year but it will be interesting to read the brief filed by Whitey’s lawyers to see what basis, or as we lawyers say precedents, they use to justify their quixotic argument.

In Whitey’s World There Are No Rats

A New York Rat

A New York Rat

I’ve been dragged away from blogging by other duties but still have been watching things as they progress especially with respect to Ukraine and Whitey. I read the reports of Whitey sending letters to someone saying he knew Freddy Weichel didn’t do the murder he is accused of doing but his code of honor prevents him from telling us who did it. Apparently Weichel’s lawyers are using Whitey’s letters seeking a motion for a new trial but I have to wonder why. Is there anyone in creation who would believe anything Whitey said?

Ukraine: Was The West Snookered?

Kerry and LavrovWhere’s Yogi Berra with his deja vu all over again” when we need him.

On Thursday when the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine were meeting in Geneva, Vladimir Putin made a four hour speech to millions of watchers among his people in Russia. Among the things he said is: “The Federation Council granted the president the right to use military force in Ukraine.” He continued: “I really hope that I do not have to exercise this right and that we are able to solve all today’s pressing issues via political and diplomatic means,” 

He then went on to talk about certain areas in the south and east of Ukraine by referring to the region in question by its tsarist name “Novorossiya”, or “New Russia”, as it was referred to in the 19th century. He noted:  “It’s new Russia, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in tsarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows. Then for various reasons these areas were gone, and the people stayed there – we need to encourage them to find a solution.”

With Friends Like These! Shedding Our Wealth and Sacrificing Ourselves for Ingrates

Siesta Key February 20, 2014 056On March 24, 2014, a resolution was presented to the United Nations by Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine which was entitled:  ”Territorial integrity of Ukraine.”  

The resolution: “Affirms its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders;”


“Calls upon all States to desist and refrain from actions aimed at the
partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including any attempts to modify Ukraine’s borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means;”


“Calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized
agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the above-mentioned referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

The Many Mixed Messages of “Good Time Charlie” Hagel:

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Visits ChinaThe other day I wrote about our Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Mr. Casual, who is touring the Far East in an official capacity but dressing as if he’s on a personal vacation. I mentioned I looked forward to seeing how he would dress in China. I noted the Asians are very much into formality and his appearance in a sports coat, green pants, open shirt,etc on his arrival in Japan had to have left an unfavorable impression on the Japanese. I wondered how he would arrive in China noting if he dressed other than how he did in Japan it would not be taken well in Japan, but on the other hand I suggested if he dressed down in China his impression there would not be the best.

Ukraine’s Dilemma: Friends Living the Good Life Without Divisions

Ukraine Flag

Obama and Putin have spoken four, or is it five, times. The first group of conversations were about forestalling Putin from seizing Crimea by force. Nothing came of them. Putin went ahead, seized it and has annexed it to Russia. He used military forces the came from Russian but had hidden their identifying insignia pretending that somehow they had no connection with Russia. A sham election was held under the barrel of Russian guns.

Obama and the Western European nations uttered their dismay, imposed modest sanctions and went on with their lives. After all we are told that Russia is an important European trading partner and must not be dealt with too severely. The first thing theses allies made clear was that we would not respond with any military assistance to the Russian aggression. Oh yes, there was a promise made to Ukraine by the United States and Britain that it would insure its territorial integrity but Ukraine was told that was not a real promise. It was just a, ah, well never mind, it was just one of those things.

The Obtuse American: “Good Time Charlie” Hagel – Forgot Marilyn Monroe’s Words

HagelI went to read about the United States getting involved in the China/Japan disputes.  One article showed a picture of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reviewing a Japanese honor guard.  It is shown to the left. Looking at it I thought: “Has that man no dignity?” He is wearing a blue sports coat and grey trousers as if he’s heading for a college basketball game.

Japan is a very traditional country. It expects people to follow traditions. One of which is that a person must dress properly when reviewing an honor guard. An example is shown by the civilian to his far right. At a minimum Hagel should have worn a dark business suit. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a picture of a US cabinet member dressed so casually reviewing troops. I was dismayed at seeing his dress but thought I’d give him a Mulligan. But as I read other articles and viewed other photographs things only became worse.

Thoughts on Police Shootings: Boston and the FBI

smoking-gunA while ago I wrote that police killings seem to be on the increase. We had one last Saturday in Boston. All that is known about it as I write is a woman and her boyfriend were involved in a domestic dispute, she called the police sometime after three o’clock in the afternoon, they responded, the woman was no longer in danger, they then confronted and killed the man, no police were injured, and the matter will be investigated by fellow police officers of the shooter and the district attorney.

We’re told the immediate precipitating cause of the homicide was that man turned on the police with knives.  We can expect that the police shooting will be found to be justified. If precedent is followed, things will go back to business as usual. But this business as usual now is that there are more civilians being killed by police than at any time in the past.

The FBI’s Dilemma: Hiding Its Actions Leading Up to Tsarnaev Capture

J. Edgar Hoover IN Dedperation Misses The Target.

Here’s what we know.

On October 18, 2013, six months after the Marathon Terrorist Attack (MTA) on April 15, 2013, an issue came up relating to the FBI’s involvement in the investigation of the MTA. It first came to the public’s attention through a letter written by Senator Chuck Cratsley  Grassley to FBI Director James Comey.

Cratsley Grassley wrote:  “Did the FBI have the suspects under physical surveillance at any time prior to releasing the photos to the public?”

He continued: “In the hours leading up to the shooting of Collier and the death of the older suspect involved in the bombing, sources revealed that uniformed Cambridge Police Department officers encountered multiple teams of FBI employees conducting surveillance in the area of Central Square in Cambridge. It is unclear who the FBI was watching, but these sources allege the Cambridge Police Department, including its representation at the (Joint Terrorism Task Force), was not previously made aware of the FBI’s activity in Cambridge.”

The Todashev Report: One Big Question: Why Does The FBI Makes Itself Look So Bad

FBI MaskI finally finished reading and thinking about Florida State’s Attorney Ashton’s thorough report on the killing of Ibragim Todashev.  The basic facts contained in the report were known within hours or days after the homicide. I’ll never understand why we had to wait so long (10 months) for an official report on what happened.

I cannot figure why the FBI did not released an initial preliminary report back in May 2013 stating something to the effect: “An FBI agent and a Massachusetts State Trooper were in the Orlando, Florida, apartment of Ibragim Todashev interviewing him in connection with a triple homicide that occurred in Waltham, Ma. on September 11, 2011, when shortly after midnight on May 22, 2013, Todashev, a well-known martial arts expert, attacked the FBI agent striking him on the head. He then fled from the room in which they were sitting into the kitchen. He returned carrying a stick and wielding it in such a threatening manner that the FBI agent fearing for his life or great bodily injury shot him resulting in his death. Two other law enforcement officers were present at the time but they were standing outside the apartment at the time of the incident. A complete report will follow upon the completion of the investigation.”