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'Whitey' Bulger Trial Begins Jury Selection

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 04, 2013 3:59 PM

The trial of the infamous James "Whitey" Bulger began with jury selection in Boston federal court on Tuesday, with both the prosecution and defense choosing jurors from a pool of 675 people.

Bulger's legendary status as a Boston mobster and crime boss will play a huge role in voir dire, asjurors are chosen to hear charges based on Bulger's decades of alleged killings and other misdeeds, reports USA Today.

What will the prosecution and defense focus on to ensure a proper jury for the infamous 83-year-old?

Jurors to Remain Anonymous

Judge Denise Casper ruled on Monday that the "jurors names will not be made public" until after the jury reaches a verdict in Bulger's case, USA Today reports.

Of course juror anonymity is not strange at all in these sorts of high profile murder cases, and the First Circuit has agreed to a court's right to keep a jury's identity confidential until the trial is over.

However, if Bulger's underground crime connections are as extensive as legend says, there is a good case under the First Circuit's decision In re Globe Newspaper Company to keep names secret even after trial if there is a risk of personal harm to individual jurors.

Criminal Background of Jurors

During the 4 days of jury selection allotted by Judge Casper, reports Reuters, jurors will likely be asked if they have either been charged or arrested for a crime, or even if they have known someone arrested or charged.

Prosecutors in Bulger's case are going a step further, arguing successfully under U.S. v. McIntosh that juror background checks will help minimize the risk of a mistrial, which is a costly burden on the court.

The trial court granted their request in May, but it is unclear yet how many of the over 600 potential jurors will be thoroughly checked, reports The Associated Press.

No Mention of Federal Immunity

Bulger's attorney's had originally fought hard for allowing evidence that Bulger had been offered federal immunity under some sort of shady FBI deal, but this option is off the table now.

In May, Judge Casper ruled Bulger and his defense team could not make this immunity argument at trial, and any mention of it during jury selection will likely be met with objections and a short talk at the bench with a frustrated trial judge, reports Reuters.

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