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updated: 10/29/2012 9:43 AM

Judge in Whitey Bulger case refuses to step aside

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Associated Press

BOSTON -- The federal judge presiding over the trial of Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger has refused a defense lawyer's request to step down.

U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns says in a three-page decision issued Sunday that a motion by Bulger's lead attorney last week seeking the judge's recusal "raises no new issues of material fact or law."

Stearns says the case was randomly assigned to him in 1999 and he intends to "see it through fairly and expeditiously."

Bulger's lawyer had said Bulger had been granted immunity by former U.S. Attorney Jeremiah O'Sullivan, and that Stearns' time as a federal prosecutor overlapped O'Sullivan's time in Boston. Bulger's lawyer also says he may call Stearns as a witness.

Stearns says he was never involved in a case concerning Bulger.

Bulger's lawyer had no comment.

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