Let them speak. And, let them speak loudly.
The Donahue family has been waiting to speak since 1982. That was the year when James "Whitey" Bulger allegedly snuffed out Michael Donahue. Mr. Donahue is one of 19 victims who prosecutors allege Mr. Bulger had a role in murdering. But, Mr. Donahue is much more than a number. He was a father, brother -- and husband. He was a man who didn't deserve to die.
Now, lawyers for James "Whitey" Bulger have asked a federal judge to limit the testimony of family members of Bulger's alleged victims. They say the testimony could be "unduly prejudicial" and would "serve only to provoke an emotional response among the jury." The jury is going to undoubtedly hear from Mr. Bulger trying to explain away his crimes.
You know what I say -- Let them speak! Their testimony will provoke an emotional response. That is the point. The point is these families have waited years -- indeed decades -- to tell a court what they believe Mr. Bulger took from them. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers -- viciously murdered in the prime of their lives. For years, the families waited -- and waited patiently. They waited for a phone call -- any word that the man accused of changing the course of their lives was found and locked up. They finally got that call in June of 2011 when Mr. Bulger was arrested.
I'm surprised the government hasn't filed a motion limiting the testimony of victims. I bet they considered it. Remember, this case is like no other: it's a double-edged sword, and it's equally sharp for the government.
Whitey Bulger isn't the only one responsible for Michael Donahue's death. Let's take a deeper look.
Corrupt and compromised FBI agent John Morris testified at the 2002 trial of fellow agent John Connolly, who was convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent. Morris testified under oath that he knew Brian Halloran was cooperating in another FBI investigation of a murder in Oklahoma in which the New England mafia was involved. Halloran requested admittance into the federal witness protection program. Agent Morris recognized a clear and present danger for Halloran. Instead of getting Halloran into the program where he belonged, the information was leaked from Morris to Connolly to Bulger.
In a subsequent civil case filed against the government by the Donahue family, Federal Circuit Judge Bruce M. Seyla made the following findings of fact:
"Morris and Connolly, who were both experienced agents steeped in the mores of organized crime, must have realized that disclosure of Halloran's identity and allegations not only violated FBI guidelines but also jeopardized Halloran's safety. That jeopardy materialized: shortly after Connolly leaked Halloran's identity to Bulger, Bulger and Flemmi hatched the plot to eliminate Halloran.
"On May 11, 1982, Halloran asked his neighbor, Michael Donahue, for a ride home. Donahue, in what later would prove to be a costly gesture of good will, agreed. As they drove, Bulger's car pulled alongside and a fusillade of shots followed. Donahue died immediately; Halloran tried to flee, sustained a myriad of gunshot wounds...and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital."
If not now, then when? The upcoming trial of Whitey Bulger marks the time for the murdered victims' families to tell the world who and what has been taken from them. And, yes the jury should hear it. They should hear -- in great detail -- from the families who have suffered at the hands of Mr. Bulger and the government.
Families who have mainly suffered silently -- but shouldn't be silent anymore.