BOSTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court in Boston has agreed to hear reputed gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's request to order the judge scheduled to preside over his trial to step aside.
Bulger's lawyers have twice asked U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns to recuse himself because he was a federal prosecutor during a time when Bulger claims he was given immunity for crimes he committed while he was the leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang and an FBI informant on the Mafia, his gang's main rival.
Stearns has said there is no need for him to step down.
Bulger claims former federal prosecutor Jeremiah O'Sullivan gave him immunity. O'Sullivan denied that during testimony to Congress in 2002.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Jan. 8.
Bulger is awaiting trial for his alleged role in 19 murders.
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