Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

MASACHUSETTS FEDERAL JURY FINALLY SEES EMOTION FROM BOSTON MARATHON BOMBER

As you may recall, we were talking about death and were about to move on to the convicted Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (hereinafter, “Convicted”).

As you no doubt know, Convicted is now sitting through the penalty phase of his murder trial in Boston’s Federal District Court. As he has been convicted in federal court, he is eligible for the death penalty. The hearing going on now is to convince the jury to either sentence him to life in prison or to death.

While the court has, and will continue to, tell the jurors that they are not to make this decision based on sympathy or emotion, clearly that is what both sides are trying to do.

After all, why do you think the prosecution re-paraded the victims and their families in front of the jury in the sentencing phase when the same material had been covered during the original trial?

To prove to the jury what the jury had already told us it was convinced of beyond a reasonable doubt ? Clearly not.

Both sides are competeing for the jurors’ hearts.

This part is normal. It is all part of the theatrics of jury trials. There is a bit of “The Emperors new Clothes” involved. The jurors are told to leave their sympathies and emotions out of the courtoom. Meanwhile, the attorneys…on both sides…clammer for the jurors to run out and bring them back to the courtroom.

The media, of course, plays its part for the rest of us by examining things which are also commonplace and trying to make them seem unusual. An example of this would be the evaluations and re-evaluations of Convicted’s emotions.

During the trial and the first part of the sentencing hearing he has not shown emotion. Finally, after seeing family members weeping and talking of him as a child, Convicted showed emotion.

Convicted apparently wiped tears from his eyes and fidgeted in his chair as his mother’s sister sobbed uncontrollably. For her part, the aunt cried as she sat down about 10 feet from Convicted. The tears began falling before she began to testify, and she was only able to answer questions about her name, her year of birth and where she was born. Finally, the court suggested that the defense call a different witness so the aunt could compose herself. At the time, Convicted is reported as using a tissue to wipe his eyes and nose.

This was apparently big news.

All the time, the pundits pretend to know how THEY would act if they were on trial for murder or facing the choice between a life sentence and a death sentence…watching loved ones basically plead to spare their life.

    Attorney Sam’s Take On Defendants At Trial And The Showing Of Emotion

It might interest you to know that things like how a criminal defendant acts in court is usually a reflection of how well the defense attorney has trained him or her while preparing for trial. In most cases, defense counsel tries to nail home to the client to show absolutely no emotional reaction during the trial. This is because the type of reactions of a defendant during an adverse witness’ testimony is often distracting to a jury and it aggravates them. Not a good idea.

At this point this matter has dipped way into the emotional and sympathetic pool. The fact that Convicted may well have shown a crack in the stoicism is really nothing new…except it shows he is human.

Of course, reminding the jurors that Convicted is indeed human may turn out to be important. Thus far, the prosecution has done all it can to make it seem as if he is anything but human.

And it is, after all, easier to put something inhuman to death than an actual human being.

The usual arguments about the death penalty do not seem to hold very well here. Not even the defense attorneys have argued that Convicted was actually innocent. The feelings of most people, even opponents of the death penalty, that I hear most often is that “if there is anyone who deserves the death penalty, it’s this guy”.

Before those of you in favor of the death penalty celebrate the apparent change of view…wait, at least, for tomorrow’s posting when we finish this subject matter.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to the article, “Boston Marathon bomber cries at federal death penalty trial”

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