BOSTON (CBS) – It looks like taxpayers are on the hook for close to $3 million for the cost of James “Whitey” Bulger’s defense in his racketeering trial.
Read: Bulger Defense Costs Court Document (.pdf)
A court document shows Bulger’s attorneys J.W. Carney and Hank Brennan have billed the court for more than $2.4 million in attorney fees dating back to 2011. A majority of that money, $2.1 million, went to Carney.
The document notes that neither attorney has submitted vouchers for services rendered during the months of July and August.
In addition, vouchers for paralegal services, investigative services, transcript costs and other services totaled an additional $246,000.
A judge granted Bulger a taxpayer-funded attorney despite at least $800,000 in frozen assets recovered from Whitey Bulger’s apartment.
That judge decided Bulger met the criteria to receive a court-appointed attorney. Prosecutors argued ahead of the trial that Bulger has millions of dollars stashed around the world, and has no problem affording his defense.
Under the law, the court could have chosen to limit each attorney to a $9,700 paycheck for the entire trial.
Steve Davis, whose sister Debbie was allegedly killed by Bulger, says these legal bills should be paid by the government.
“We wouldn’t have bared this cost if they did their jobs back in ’81, on my sister’s case,” Davis says.
Of 19 killings, the murder of his Debbie’s murder was the only one jurors couldn’t connect to Whitey.
“I just feel that the taxpayers, all of us having to pay for that? We’ve paid it enough with the lives that he’s taken,” said Davis.
J.W. Carney and Hank Brennan released the following statement Friday:
We were appointed to represent Jim Bulger. The Judge expected us to do all that was necessary to be ready for the trial. We did so. The bills reflect the number of hours it took the defense team to review and digest over 400,000 pages of evidence.
Jim Bulger has accurately stated in his letters that he offered to plead guilty to all charges, including the crimes that he had not committed. He also would have agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
All he sought in return was mercy towards Catherine Grieg, the woman who went with him to Santa Monica solely because she loved him. She would have spent a year in prison, been on probation for years thereafter, and subject to the same restrictions imposed by Judge Woodlock. That was not enough for the United States Attorney’s office.
This decision resulted in the trial, and the enormous expenditure of federal funds for the prosecution, defense, and United States Marshal.
The greater cost was to the families of the victims. They had to wait additional years for the case to be resolved, and see that the prosecution could not even prove 8 of the 19 murders.
Questions about the costs of this case, to the taxpayers and to the victim families, should be directed to the United States Attorney’s office, rather than the court-appointed defense lawyers.