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May 15, 2015

Capital jury concludes character of crime matters most in death sentencing of Boston bomber

I was on the links on a lovely spring afternoon when this news broke (via CNN): "Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sentenced to death."  As the title of this post highlights and as I suggested in some prior posts, I long thought the sentencing in this case came down to whether the jury was concerned more about the horrific crime that Tsarnaev committed or about the explanations of his background emphasized by the defense.  In the end, it appears that the crime prevailed.

Lots of notable commentary about the notable sentencing verdict can already be found at Crime & Consequences:

UPDATE: Detailed post-verdict commentary keeps coming from Bill Otis at Crime & Consequences, who is obviously quite energized by the jury's condemnation of the Boston bomber:

May 15, 2015 at 10:15 PM | Permalink


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I admit that I am more than a bit surprised by this outcome but at the same time I am far from displeased.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 15, 2015 11:20:55 PM

Could always be surprised by the First Circuit, but, in light of Skilling, I don't see venue as a viable issue on appeal. Other than that what appellate issues are there in this case. It looked like a very clean trial (with the caveat that some key legal issue might not have been noticed by the media and thus omitted from the news coverage of the case). Any IAC claim will merely reflect how far the "standards" on capital representation distort Strickland.

Posted by: tmm | May 16, 2015 10:06:02 AM

I stereotyped the Boston jury as criminal lover big government rent seeking pansies. As juries always do, they did the right thing. And all predictions about them were wrong.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 16, 2015 10:20:53 AM

The sentiment at this blog originally was that he basically had no shot, then it was that he would get LWOP & now we might be going in the other direction. TalkLeft suggested there were various issues for appeal: http://www.talkleft.com/story/2015/5/15/154653/022/terrortrials/Jury-Sentences-Tsarnaev-to-Death-on-Some-Counts

I'm sure Bill Otis is enthusiastic but this sort of atypical case (akin to Timothy McVeigh in some ways & there Terry Nichols didn't get the death penalty, showing it is all so arbitrary even when talking about mass murder) doesn't say much about "abolitionists." Since the victims or family of the victims of the bombing have mixed views on what is deserved, the usual appeals to there is of limited value. Deterrence isn't advanced much for this sort of thing. Unclear if he is some danger in prison. As to retribution, LWOP to me seems more appropriate & in some ways harder for him.

The final judgment of the jury is not some sort of travesty. It's understandable. There are reasons even here to vote the other way, but unlike various other cases, this is a "worse of the worst" sort of case. And, I think there is a strong enough federal interest that a federal prosecution was appropriate. The current administration supports the death penalty in such cases.

Let's see how this plays out. McVeigh's case was pretty quick -- four years from sentencing to execution.

Posted by: Joe | May 16, 2015 10:25:47 AM

Too bad your golf game was interrupted.

Posted by: Woebegone | May 16, 2015 10:57:50 AM

No worries, woebegone, as few things spoil my golf game (other than 3 putts and surprise thurderstorms).

Posted by: Doug B. | May 16, 2015 1:42:11 PM

"Detailed post-verdict commentary keeps coming from Bill Otis at Crime & Consequences, who is obviously quite energized by the jury's condemnation of the Boston bomber"

Getting energized at the thought of someone being executed says a lot about the pro-death community.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | May 16, 2015 6:50:20 PM

"Getting energized at the thought of someone being executed says a lot about the pro-death community."

Yep. Justice being done is energizing.

Posted by: federalist | May 16, 2015 8:58:01 PM

I often cite the Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Kill. But I sometimes do so facetiously and few see it. The Tsarboy was under a duty to "not kill". He violated it. If one violates the Sixth Commandment then what do you expect as punishment? The phrase: "an eye for an eye" is not set out in the Ten Commandments. Nor is: "a tooth for a tooth". Tsarboy is sort of a tooth fairy type. If The People of The United States kill him in their own name then they may have to answer for a killing when their time comes up at the Pearly Gates. It so happens that in my last interview at the Pearly Gates there was a Governor recently dead, from Texas, who was being questioned while I was next in line and I could hear. The Governor had the right to pardon and the right to grant clemency. He chose not to on many death penalty cases where the human got killed by the State and by the People of The Great State. Saint Peter sent him to Limbo, which is some suburb of Saint Louis called Ferguson. It is said at the time that he was to be given the name: Michael Brown. Some things come around. I wonder where Saint Peter sent him this time.

Posted by: Liberty1st | May 16, 2015 9:36:34 PM

"Yep. Justice being done is energizing."

Mayer Brown should have that as their logo.

Posted by: The Death Penalty Sucks. | May 17, 2015 12:34:41 AM

DPS and Lib: That was a Boston jury. You should show a little respect, and stop your immature whining.

Lib cannot read the repeated corrections of the real translation of the Sixth Commandment, thou shalt not murder. Those bloodthirsty Iraqi and Palestinian peasants sure engaged in all out blood baths vigorously and often in the Bible.

Those Biblical people were not Jews like Einstein, more like Arafats on androgenic steroids.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 17, 2015 9:40:13 AM

I was in Jerusalem and saw some version of the Ten Commandments etched in stone at some shrine type place. The Sixth Commandment said: Thou Shalt Not Kill. It did not use the word "murder". I think that comes in the Sears Roebuck version of the Bible.

Posted by: Liberty1st | May 17, 2015 9:58:06 PM

On a different note from the above, what is important is that Tsarnaev was prosecuted like a common criminal. Notwithstanding what any inside the beltway professional scaremonger might claim and further notwithstanding this being a successful terrorist attack, it is absolutely essential that any prosecution of a terrorist be held in a civilian court. The federal criminal justice system is perfectly capable of handling these types of cases,and treating a terrorist as a common criminal is a perfect riposte to the main thrust of any act of terrorism.

Posted by: Fred | May 17, 2015 11:13:53 PM

Fred. Are you a lawyer? Because that idiotic lawyer, waste of time likely cost $10 million. You must be a tax consumer, not a tax payer. That was a worthless lawyer Broadway production. Stealing from the taxpayer. It was a bold daylight robbery at the point of a gun.No, it was not as costly as the shutting of a major city. That lawyer heist cost $billions.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 18, 2015 6:46:01 AM

Lib. Was it in ancient Hebrew, and did you study that language?

Here is a place to start on the word, retzach, an unlawful killing. Try reading the entire 50 pages of Genesis, not just the propaganda parts covered in religious education. Does not take long. Those Iraqis sure loved their killing.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 18, 2015 6:50:55 AM

Mr. Supremacy Claus:

You complain regularly here, among other things, about how lawyers are stupid and about how law school causes a 50 point reduction in IQ. If you would bother to spend some of the time you spend trolling here and read some about the nature and process of terrorism, you would be far better informed and a much better citizen. In fact, you would find that some of your opinions are legitimate. Specifically, your entire comment at 6:46 AM is supported by the literature. Of course, you didn't know that.

The Tsarnaev brothers probably spent less than a $1000.00. Yet, as you correctly note, the USG and other state and local governments spent millions in response. Quite a ROI wouldn't you say? If you would bother to do any reading on the subject, you would see that the provoking of an overreaching response is the main if not sole goal of every specific act of terrorism. You would also see that every government that has been attacked by terrorists since the dawn of time has overreacted. The terrorists know this and they count on it. It is inevitable as the sun rising in the east. Yet by your comment you shout and shake your fist at the sun demanding that it rise somewhere else on the compass.

I am pleased as a citizen that Tsarnaev was tried as a common criminal with the procedure of his trial being identical to that of any other common criminal. Once again, if you would bother to do any reading on the subject, you would see why prosecuting him just like any other common criminal is one of the best responses we could have made. In effect, we are looking the terrorists in the eye and telling them with no equivocation that, notwithstanding the deaths, injuries, and misery they caused, we will not change our way of life in general and specifically how we prosecute criminals. The terrorists want us to change and are counting on the scaremongers to make these changes.

So if you were in charge, would you do something differently?

Posted by: Fred | May 18, 2015 9:48:24 AM

Mr. Supremacy Claus:

I apologize for not including the following in my previous comment. Here are two links to two sites where you can read about the problems of fighting terrorism. Both sites cover a lot of other subjects, but are a good place to start. Additionally, the editors and contributors are professional soldiers, not lawyers. Enjoy.



Posted by: Fred | May 18, 2015 1:00:10 PM

We are at war, not on a police investigation. The bombing of Dresden or the firebombing of the wooden buildings of Tokyo, were acts of theater. Their aim was to put on a show and to induce the adversary to given up a dream of conquest.

We utilitarians are cheapskates. Was Tsaernev guilty? No controversy, trial takes an hour, to satisfy a judge or jury of the level of proof. Mandatory sentencing ensues, and he is executed on the spot. Trial costs $10,000 in material and time.

Prior to trial waterboard him 12 hours a day, to find the sources of his financing, intellectual inspiration, and religious mandates. Send drones around the world, the $100,000 kind, not the $10 million kind. Kill all those people and their affiliates, and supporters. The main principle? The deceased are not a problem anymore.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 18, 2015 6:13:08 PM

Fred. I have no dispute with you. The lawyers know to what I am referring, and that I have their personal welfare and economic interests at heart. They know I am their best friend on earth.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 18, 2015 6:15:45 PM

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