Unsettling result of Bulger trial: soon to hit big screen

Last week I sent out my review of the latest Whitey Bulger documentary that I wrote for Forbes.com. This week I have published another piece in response to Berlinger’s film, this time in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, that considers the legal details of the Bulger trial in more depth. In this column I argue that, given the ambiguity in the case law governing the admissibility of Bulger’s claimed immunity agreement, Bulger should have been allowed to present this defense. 

I realize that my position here will be seen as questionable by many, and as both wrong and wrong-headed by some. If you have any feedback, whether in agreement or disagreement, feel free to make a comment below the piece on the MLW website, or write me directly at has@harveysilverglate.com .

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WHITEY: An Only-In-Boston Extravaganza Comes To The Big Screen

Last week I attended a screening of Joe Berlinger's excellent documentary WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, about the life, times, and trial of Boston's most notorious mobster. I've written a review for Forbes.com examining the immunity defense Whitey Bulger was never allowed to present in court, and the film's thoughtful treatment of the explosive subject.

As always, I’d appreciate your feedback on the topic at hand and encourage you to either post a comment directly below the column on Forbes.com or reach me directly at has@harveysilverglate.com

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Justice Goes After the GOP

My views on the Holder Justice Department’s ill-considered recent displays of prosecutorial overzeal and worse are set forth in my latest piece for the Wall Street Journal.

As always, I’d appreciate your feedback on the topic at hand and encourage you to either post a comment directly below the column on the WSJ’s website, or reach me directly at has@harveysilverglate.com. If you’d like to write a Letter to the Editor in response to my column, you can email wsj.ltrs@wsj.com.

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Mass. Governor's Council Settles the 'Armenian Genocide' Question...Sort Of

You may be familiar with the kerfuffle that occurred at the Governor’s Council this past fall regarding Joseph S. Berman’s submission for a Superior Court Judgeship. Despite having a distinguished career as a respected litigator here in the Commonwealth, Mr. Berman’s submission was met with fierce resistance due to his affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL describes the slaughter of Armenian’s by the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI as “tantamount to genocide,” but the inclusion of that modifier continues to draw critique and contempt from the Armenian community. While it is known that Mr. Berman worked internally to soften the organization’s line on the issue, his affiliation with the ADL, it appears, is sufficient to impeach his candidacy for the bench. I’ve had my own experience learning just how narrow and politically-ordained the acceptable narrative of the Armenian genocide is in this state, when representing a group of students and teachers wishing to keep so-called “contra-genocide” educational materials in a resource guide provided by the state’s education commissioner. The materials had been removed after significant pressure was exerted by the local Armenian lobby, which appears to be at work again in Berman’s case.

For a more detailed report on this issue of the Armenian genocide debate becoming a third rail in Massachusetts, please see my column posted on WGBH here: http://blogs.wgbh.org/scrum/2014/1/30/governors-council-settles-armenian-genocide-question-sort/

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The Buffer Zone Law Is Unconstitutional

On January 15, 2014, the Supreme Court heard opening arguments in McCullen v. Coakley concerning the abortion clinic buffer zone law in Massachusetts. Passed in 2007, this statute establishes a 35-foot perimeter around the entrances of reproductive health facilities in order to limit what is perceived as the harassment by anti-abortion protesters of employees and patients entering clinics. While I support a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, this law extends beyond what is necessary to protect women accessing these facilities (numerous other laws already protect against harassment and violence) and infringes on the First Amendment rights of anti-abortion protesters. This case represents yet another example of the “free speech for me but not for thee” attitude. A free society assures liberty, but not necessarily comfort, for its citizens. 

For more insight on this issue please read my argument against the constitutionality of this law, presented alongside Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s argument in support, on the WGBH/News page.

The column after the jump...

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