In Judge Wolf’s court, the innocent ‘don’t regularly get charged’
Do you think a defense lawyer would let Wolf be seated as a juror if he said that during voir dire
Every press release from the US Department of Justice about criminal cases contains this final sentence:
“The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
Sometimes during voir dire — jury selection — a potential juror will be asked if he agrees with the statement that all or most defendants are guilty. If you agree, chances are you will be challenged or excused from jury duty.
C’mon down, US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf, age 75, nominated in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan.
On April 20, thanking jurors in a just-completed child-pornography case, Wolf said:
“We have the good fortune to live in a country where even though it’s often hard to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, innocent people don’t regularly get charged in federal court.”
To repeat: “Innocent people don’t regularly get charged in federal court.”
Really? Do you think a defense lawyer would let Wolf be seated as a juror if he said that during voir dire? But Wolf isn’t a juror, he’s a judge, presiding over criminal trials.
I wanted to get a comment from Judge Wolf about whether he really believes that the feds don’t “regularly” charge innocent people. So I sent a request through the clerk of the court, Robert Farrell.
I emailed my request to Farrell Monday at 9:21 a.m.
At 9:35 a.m. I received this reply: “Judge Wolf has no comment.”
In my request, I had reminded Wolf of just a couple of times the feds have attempted to railroad innocent people.
For instance, the recent trial of the “conspirators” in the attempted fed-napping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The FBI had to fire or suspend several of the crooked agents involved in the botched frame-up. The indictments were announced just before the November 2020 election, so that Trump could be blamed for the G-men’s latest dirty trick against him.
Two defendants were acquitted at trial a couple of weeks ago, after being held without bail for 18 months.
Closer to home, what about the four innocent men convicted in state court in 1968 for a murder they did not commit, and which the FBI knew they did not commit?
The four all spent more than 30 years in prison. Two died there. One of Wolf’s fellow judges, Nancy Gertner, awarded them or their estates over $100 million in damages in 2006.
Granted, this outrageous injustice occurred in state court, but the feds conspired to keep the men in prison even though the FBI knew they were innocent.
In 1983, Judge Wolf was the top assistant prosecutor under then-U.S. Attorney William F. Weld.
By then, everyone knew these guys hadn’t killed Teddy Deegan — it had even been reported in a best-selling book in 1973. But on July 1, 1983, Weld wrote the state Parole Board opposing a commutation of the sentence of Peter Limone, one of the innocent men:
“This office recommends most strongly,” the future governor wrote, “that the petition for commutation of Mr. Limone’s sentence be denied.”
That’s the office Wolf worked in. So what if Limone didn’t do it? Lock him and throw away the key!
They demanded that an innocent man remain incarcerated. The state parole board wanted to approve the commutation — after all, Limone had already served 15 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
But the office where Wolf was one of the top administrators still didn’t want him freed.
Had Wolf agreed to comment on his April 20 statement, I’m sure he would have mentioned, as is his wont, his hearings into the FBI corruption in Boston that his U.S. attorney’s office was facilitating for so many years.
As Judge Wolf bragged to the departing jurors, “In the late 1990’s, I conducted nine months of hearings and an over 661-page decision that exposed a very corrupt relationship between the FBI and the top echelon organized crime informants, Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi.”
Interesting that he would mention Flemmi, because “the Rifleman” certainly had a lot to say about Wolf in his own FBI informant file. I don’t have space to get into it. However, the actual page of Flemmi’s file in which he discusses then-prosecutor Wolf, from August 1983, is printed in my book, “Ratman.” It’s on page 171, a public document.
Wolf was never Mr. Congeniality. But in his dotage, he seems to have become even more … difficult, shall we say.
Outside his courtroom hangs this typewritten sign:
“As ordered by Judge Mark L. Wolf, members of the public and the media who wish to attend the proceedings in Courtroom 2 must be vaccinated and if they are not, receive the permission of the Judge to enter. Please inform the Court Security Officer if you are not vaccinated.
“All members of the public and the media must wear masks while in the courtroom.”
In other words, Judge Wolf not only believes that the vast majority of defendants who come before him are guilty, he also believes the vast majority of the panic porn he’s been reading over the past two years.
Welcome to the US District Court for the District of Maskachusetts, where all defendants are presumed innocent — wink wink, nudge nudge.