BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Federal judge Denise Casper will preside over the long-awaited trial of Whitey Bulger this summer.

Casper will take over for U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns, who was ordered to step down from the trial Thursday by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bulger’s lawyers wanted Stearns removed from the case because he was a federal prosecutor in Boston in the 1980s. At the time, Bulger was working as an FBI informant while allegedly committing crimes, including murder.

Bulger claims he received immunity for his crimes from another federal prosecutor who worked in the same office as Stearns while Bulger was giving the FBI information on the Mafia.

Casper, 45, has been a federal judge since December 2010. She was nominated by President Obama in April 2010 to fill the seat vacated by the late Judge Reginald Lindsay.

Casper is the first black woman to sit on the federal bench in Massachusetts.  She’s a 1994 graduate of Harvard Law School.

Former federal prosecutor Robert Peabody of Collora LLP in Boston worked with Casper in the narcotics office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for several years.

He said she’s sharp, creative, and very efficient.

“Although she hasn’t been on the bench a long time, she certainly has the horsepower and the organizational skills to manage that case,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Friday. “It’s in very good hands.”

Bulger’s trial is scheduled to begin in June.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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