Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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August 15, 2013

View from the courtroom; Local law professor had front-row seat on Bulger trial

Local law professor had front-row seat on Bulger trial

As a kid growing up on Center Street in Dorchester, Michael Coyne knew who James “Whitey” Bulger and many of his associates were.

“Most people knew they were to be feared and not to be quarreled with. We all knew not to make him part of our life,” Coyne said.

Decades and a law degree later, Coyne’s personal and professional lives have collided. The associate dean of Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, Coyne, 57, spent the last eight weeks at John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in South Boston watching and weighing in on Bulger’s long-awaited federal trial.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It combines all my worlds into one,” said Coyne, 57, who now lives in North Andover.

On Monday, Coyne watched as Bulger was convicted of racketeering and conspiracy by a Boston jury that found he committed 11 murders and a raft of other crimes as an iron-fisted crime boss.

Bulger, a mobster and alleged FBI informant, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 22, 2011, after fleeing Boston in 1994 after an indictment on charges that included 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s was handed down.

At the trial, Coyne’s primary role was as legal analyst for New England Cable News, but his observations and opinions also were being sought throughout the trial by CNN, NBC News, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor. Coyne has even done on-air interviews with the likes of the American bureau of Al Jazeera, a Middle Eastern news network.

Bulger’s accused crimes, which run the gamut from money laundering, drug running and murders, have long captivated Boston and New England. But Coyne understands the international appeal of the 83-year-old mobster’s story.

“Everyone loves a good murder mystery and government corruption story,” Coyne said before the verdict was handed down. “It’s an extraordinarily colorful trial, an interesting trial with more colorful characters than any movie.

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