Tsarnaev lawyers defend use of juror quotes to move trial

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Boston bombing trial delayed as jury selection bogs down.

For the third time, lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked US District Judge George O’Toole to move the trial out of Boston, saying there’s no way their client can possibly get a fair trial in the city where he is charged with leaving a trail of murder and mayhem.

Another choked back tears as she said she was a neighbor of Martin Richard, an 8-year-old boy who was killed in the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon, for which Mr.The hard truth is that the United States’ case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not change, whether it’s heard at the edge of Boston Harbor, or if it’s taken down to the banks of the Potomac in Washington, D.C.

The third demand by attorneys for terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are again demanding the trial be moved out of state, arguing 85 percent of the 1,373 prospective jurors have written him off as guilty or have a personal stake in his alleged crimes — findings one legal expert said is grist for an appeal.A federal court in Boston announced Thursday that it is no longer “realistic” to begin the marathon bombing trial Monday, an acknowledgment of the difficulty in finding an impartial jury after a week of questioning prospective jurors.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers renewed their bid for a change of venue on Thursday, the same day court officials announced that opening statements will not be heard as expected on Monday because jury selection is taking longer than anticipated. A third seemed too eager to serve, as if seeking celebrity for participating, while a fourth, a biologist, told the judge he doubted he had “the personal constitution” to consider the death penalty — even for Boston’s most loathed suspect. O’Toole, Jr. had scheduled opening statements to start on Monday but decided that date was now “unrealistic” given how many jurors had to be dismissed since the voir dire process began Jan. 15, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers urged the judge to stop individual questioning of jurors immediately, order the trial moved and hold a hearing to determine where it should be held. Still others said that after nearly two years, they remain emotionally scarred from the April 15, 2013, bombings that killed three and injured more than 260 at the race finish line. And a third wrote: “Make sure he gets what he deserves.” Last week, the lawyers also asked for a trial delay until the publicity surrounding the recent terrorist attacks in Paris calmed down. He did, however, lash out at the defense for publicly releasing excerpts of confidential juror questionnaires in its latest motion, calling it improper.

No, not all those who grieved for the dead were happy with that decision, but as one Oklahoma City firefighter told me, “We’ve already suffered too much in this town. Nothing will cause us to retract from that position.” O’Toole, however, would not budge. “We can keep debating this,” he responded. “The best we can do is ask jurors for their honest self-assessment.” Assistant U.S.

In an order late Thursday afternoon, he wrote that “great care” had been taken to protect the privacy of prospective jurors, and he instructed that the defense motion be sealed from public view. “Why waste time on this guy you know he is guilty,” one prospective juror wrote. On Wednesday one person, when asked if he would be open to the prospect of the 21-year-old Tsarnaev being found not guilty, burst out laughing, according to local news reports. Attorney William Weinreb told Bruck prosecutors aren’t trying to delude themselves that no one on the panel will have heard of the terrorist attack or have an opinion as to the 21-year-old Tsarnaev’s culpability. “The goal,” Weinreb said, “is simply to ferret out those who can go through a trial suspending their preconceived notions.” Based on the information in the Tsarnaev team’s motion, attorney Elizabeth A. But let it happen away from here.” I understand only too well that we have come to see the Tsarnaev trial as a logical extension of the “Boston Strong” ethos that sprang from the carnage on Boylston Street and infused itself into our consciousness.

As Bruck put it Thursday, before the latest batch of 11 prospective jurors were questioned, the way that the judge has interviewed the jurors, asking them if they can suspend their preconceived notions about the case, is glossing over the potential for bias. “So the question, ‘Can you put that aside?’ asks them to do a very sterile and meaningless exercise,” Bruck said. “What is happening here is not adequate and will not provide for a fair and impartial jury.” He added, “We do contend this case can’t be tried in Boston. And, it is “not possible yet to specifically target a new start date.” Eleven more prospects met yesterday with the judge and the opposing trial teams. More significant for the defense’s chance of pulling off a last-minute venue change, however, was Judge O’Toole’s reaction to the defense claims, and they were hardly agreeable. “It’s a problem we face commonly,” O’Toole said, referring to the difficulty of sitting jurors in a high-profile case. He also criticized the defense team, saying that its disclosure of information found in the confidential questionnaires was improper, and he ordered sealed the motion that included responses from the jurors. Yesterday, they presented a compelling picture of the roiling emotions infecting that universe of 1,373 people who answered a call to sit in judgment of their client.

But he repeated a theme he has stressed throughout the five days of direct questioning of prospective jurors: lay people have a far different concept of the presumption of innocence than do lawyers. Can they do that faithfully, without requiring the defendant to prove he’s not guilty?” The judge then seemed to answer his own question, telling Bruck, “I understand your view on it. I think the way we’ve been handling it is proper.” “The focus of voir dire should be to probe the jurors’ preconceived notion of guilt,” she said, not simply to instruct them not to feel that way. “The goal of voir dire is not to extract a promise, or to order them to put aside their presumptions,” but to find the basis of those presumptions. “Simply put,” they wrote, “the presumption of prejudice precludes both actual and apparent impartiality and undermines public confidence in the proceedings.

He has pleaded not guilty to all counts. “Eastern Massachusetts has a long and well-chronicled history of opposition to the death penalty,” said Daniel S. But rather than dismiss them outright, Judge O’Toole has often questioned them further to see if their opposition is absolute or if they might reconsider under certain circumstances.

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