Bulger Day 31: A Witness with Memory Problems

The cross-examination of a former FBI Agent continued.

So Whitey Bulger’s on trial and you’re interested in hearing about it, but you’ve got this darn day job and you can’t manage to keep up with all the live tweets. We feel you. Here’s what you missed. (Past coverage here.)

One of the more amusing, and demonstrative, exchanges in todays’ testimony came as Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly recommenced his cross-examination of former FBI Agent Bob Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick admitted he was having trouble remembering some details of his testimony from the previous day, to which Kelly asked him whether he has any memory problems. “Not that I recall,” Fitzpatrick answered, a rejoinder that, while hilarious, doesn’t do much to defuse the suspicion.

This came as Kelly grilled Fitzpatrick for saying in his book that he was there when the body of John McIntyre was exhumed, when outside evidence suggests he wasn’t. “This is a memoir,” Fitzpatrick said, (apparently subscribing the James Frey definition of the word.) It was just one of the inconsistencies Kelly used to discredit Fitzpatrick’s testimony, in which he recalled trying to have Bulger removed as an informant. (Also damning was paper evidence that Fitzpatrick said Bulger should be kept on as an informant in 1984.)

After Fitzpatrick came Joseph Kelly, a retired FBI agent who worked in the organized crime squad with disgraced FBIer John Connolly. The point of his testimony seemed to be his admission that Connolly had, at some point, access to the informant files of everyone else on the squad. That’d fit with the defense’s narrative that Connolly borrowed information from other informants to pad Bulger’s file and make him look useful.

It was a short day because Bulger’s lawyer, Carney, was needed elsewhere to attend to the appeal of another of his publicly beloved clients. Earlier in the day, the judge rejected his request to sequester the jury during deliberations, saying his evidence that a certain Boston Globe columnist was exhibiting bias wasn’t enough to disrupt their lives like that. They’ve already been instructed not to read the Globe or any other news reports. So if you’re seeing this and you’re a jury member … stop? Recuse yourself? Great, glad that’s settled.