…And so it begins.
A new year. A new high profile multi-murder, among other criminal charges of course, trial.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is having what will serve as his “day in court”.
As you will no doubt recall, the Defendant is charged with the terror attack near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. He has pleaded not guilty. His older brother, Tamerlan, is also accused in the crimes. He is not on trial as he died in a shootout with police.
His trial began today in a federal courthouse less than two miles from where two bombs, concealed in backpacks, exploded with devastating force.
Defense efforts had already failed on two accounts.
Defense attorneys argued that the trial should be moved out of the city of Boston. Denied.
The defense argued that they needed more time to prepare for trial. Denied.
Today, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. began the process of voice dire…aka jury selection.
The Defendant, 21 of age, is charged with 30 criminal counts in the April 2013 bombings, which killed three people and injured 260 others, as well as the murder of an MIT campus police officer, Sean Collier, a few days after the bomb attack.
In order to, hopefully, not run out of potential jurors, the court summoned 3,000 people to the federal courthouse on Boston’s inner harbor. Over the next three days, at least 1,200 potential jurors are expected to fill out questionnaires. Thus begins the process…at least for this “First Phase” of the trial.
Judge O’Toole has Ordered that individual questioning of prospective jurors would begin on January 15th. Further, opening statements are expected to take place around January 26th.
The trial is expected to last three or four months.
Since shortly after the bombings, the Defendant has been held at Federal Medical Center Devens, a prison facility on a decommissioned U.S. Army base about 40 miles west of Boston.
Speaking of armed bases…the federal court seemed to resemble one today from what I have heard.
Between the events of the bombing, terrorism and police/citizen incidents of recent note, it is no surprise that security is a big concern.
Attorney Sam’s Take On “Phase One” Jury Selection
“Sam, what is all this about ‘Phase One’?”
“Phase One” is the type of trial most of us are used to. It concerns the question of guilty vs. no guilty of the Defendant. In other words, is the Defendant guilty as charged. “Phase Two” in the case is the penalty phase as the government is seeking the death penalty should there be a conviction.
“Yes, but he has not been convicted yet.”
Yes, how about that? It would seem, however, that everyone is treating that as a mere formality. News accounts, lawyers and the like seem to think a conviction is inevitable.
At least, the folks you ask around here. Hmm, might that be a sign that the case should have been moved? Well, that’s an issue for another day. That day is commonly called “the appeal“.
“But what if he is found to be not guilty?”
Then, clearly, there will be no “Phase Two” of the trial. There also will not be an appeal.
“So…what goes on in jury selection and why does it take so long?”
Well, let’s discuss that in my next blog.
To review the story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/boston-bombing-trial-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-begins-jury-selection-n277561