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July 24, 2018

Three+ years after death sentencing, lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have "flagged roughly 30 issues" for his appeal

It seems like it has been a long time since I blogged by the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And indeed it has been: a jury handed down Tsarnaev death sentence back in May 2015, a full month before Donald Trump had even announced he was running for President.  But now more than three years after his death sentencing, Tsarnaev is in the news via this Boston Globe story headlined "Lawyer for Boston Marathon bomber maps out appeal of death penalty sentence." Here are excerpts:

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have flagged roughly 30 issues they plan to raise when he appeals his death sentence, according to a recent legal filing. A motion filed last week with the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the attorneys have “identified approximately 30 appellate claims to consider raising in Mr. Tsarnaev’s [appellate] brief.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers requested that the Aug. 20 deadline for filing their highly anticipated brief be pushed back to Nov. 18, citing their ongoing analysis of some 10,000 pages of transcripts in the case.  “Even relative to other federal capital appeals and terrorism appeals across the country, the record here is voluminous,” David Patton, a member of Tsarnaev’s appellate team, wrote in the motion.

Tsarnaev, 25, was convicted in 2015 for his role in the April 2013 Marathon bombings, which killed three people including an 8-year-old boy and wounded more than 260 others. He was sentenced to death and is currently incarcerated at a federal supermax prison in Colorado. Tsarnaev and his older brother and accomplice, Tamerlan, also killed an MIT police officer while they were on the run. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown days after the bombings....

Patton listed additional issues that Tsarnaev’s team expects to raise on appeal. “Counsel have completed drafts of a substantial portion of the remaining claims, including issues concerning venue, multiple errors in the selection of the death-qualified jury, the admission of evidence obtained through the use of Mr. Tsarnaev’s involuntary confession, the lawfulness of certain counts of conviction . . . the exclusion of relevant mitigation material, improper prosecutorial arguments, and the admission of victim impact evidence from survivors,” Patton wrote. “But, despite continuous effort, a number of issues identified and determined to be sufficiently weighty for inclusion remain to be drafted.”

I would expect the First Circuit to give Tsarnaev's lawyers into the fall to complete their brief, and I would also guess the feds will need at least a few extra months to complete a response. Consequently, the First Circuit argument in the case will surely be heard no sooner than 2019, and I would not expect an opinion from the First Circuit until probably early 2020. Then surely comes en banc petition, a cert petition and likely at least one 2255 motion.

July 24, 2018 at 12:45 PM | Permalink


When I see stories like this, I wonder about the rules governing the post-trial process in jurisdictions since this seems to be a long-time from trial to argument.

In my state, Missouri, I am used to very strict time limits on post-trial motions (all but assuring that the notice of appeal is filed within four months of the verdict). While appellate time limits are a little more flexible, the rules make clear the responsibilities of appellant's counsel, the court clerk, and the court reporter in terms of compiling the record which typically sees the record complete within six months of the notice of appeal with argument taking place six to twelve months after the record is complete.

Is Missouri unusual in getting cases presented to the appellate court in twelve to eighteen months after sentencing or is it something about this case which is slowing down the process this much?

Posted by: tmm | Jul 24, 2018 2:52:20 PM

Lawyer rent seeking needs to be criminalized. The judge, the defense lawyers, the prosecutors, are all scamming and stealing $millions from the tax payer. Each of the issues is silly nitpicking to generate worthless government lawyer make work. The appeal is frivolous and fraudulent. No point detracts from substance, in any way. All points are procedural.

Then the stupid lawyer decided to shut down Boston, hitting our economy with a $5 billion loss, on top of the damage done by the terrorists.

The terrorists did tiny damage. The lawyer did huge damage to the city and to the nation. Then, the terrorist was only discovered after the end of the shut down. The owner of a house came out for a smoke after an extended period of nicotine withdrawal, and found the defendant hiding in his boat in his driveway. The lawyer mandated shut down delayed his capture.

Is the lawyer profession the stupidest and most damaging group of morons in our nation?

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 24, 2018 2:58:27 PM

I don't think 3 deaths, 16 amputations, and over 250 injuries counts as "tiny damage."

Posted by: Curious | Jul 24, 2018 3:57:56 PM

Behar asks, "Is the lawyer profession the stupidest and most damaging group of morons in our nation?"

I say no. It's rather nutcakes like him who somehow manage to escape from their straightjackets.

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Jul 24, 2018 6:17:21 PM

Curious. Governor Deval Patrick, a Harvard Law School radicalized dunderhead and incompetent, put thousands of people on house arrest. Two hours after this idiotic decision, nicotine starved guy walks out to have a cigarette, notices faucet is leaking. Sees a guy in a pool of blood in his boat parked in his driveway. A two hour shootout follows between the wounded terrorist and the police, the agents of the lawyer dunderhead. No gun is found in his possession. It is possible the police, the agents of the lawyer dunderheads were shooting at each other. Earlier, his brother had been killed not by agents of the dunderhead lawyer, but after being run over by the defendant.

Here is a picture of Governor Patrick with another Harvard Law School radicalized dunderhead, a year later, congratulating each other on the damage they have done to our nation.


Damage to the economy of this dunderhead, Harvard Law School grad's decision? $5 billion. The value of the damage done by the terrorists? Maybe $25 million, including the value of the lost lives. Add the cost of this ridiculous trial and its endless appeals, likely in the tens of millions, if not $100 million.

Then the prosecutor, Weinreb, yet another Harvard Law School radicalized asshole, is doing very well. He later joined a law firm as full partner. The average law partner makes a $million a year, and causes untold economic damage to our nation, every year he breathes.

Don't you think Harvard and Yale Law Schools should be shut down by the federal government by force, for all the damage their alumni have done to us?

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 25, 2018 3:57:58 AM

Dave. You are obviously not a lawyer. Have a blessed day.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 25, 2018 3:59:50 AM

Before I saw who replied, I thought David Behar was talking to himself with that last post.

Posted by: Erik M | Jul 25, 2018 2:01:26 PM

Erik. You are a lawyer. How many of your factually innocent clients have gone home before or after a trial, but not after a prison term? I will be impressed even if you say, just one.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 25, 2018 8:09:20 PM

David, I was living in Boston when this all happened, and no one was put under house arrest. We were free to leave our homes throughout the day (and many did), but simply asked to stay inside to aid in the search. Boston is one of those cities where if you mess with it, everyone will stay inside to ruin your day. These kinds of exaggerations really weaken your otherwise (sometimes) interesting arguments.

Posted by: Curious | Jul 26, 2018 8:58:14 AM

People I knew were stuck in Boston for several days, after their scheduled departure. Transportation, including the airport, was shut down. Did you see open shops, people going to work, traffic on the street? That Governor turned $millions in damage by the terrorists, into $billions in damage.

Ivy grads are bad leaders because they are all bookworms by definition. They should be banned from all responsible policy decisions, especially, the grads of their awful law schools. Ask Berman, he knows more Harvard Law grads than I do. Aren't they all assholes, no exception?

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 26, 2018 9:44:26 AM

Wrong again, David. The airport was kept open under heightened security. Why keep misstating the facts?


I saw a few people out that day but most stayed home, again, because they wanted to help the police catch the bomber. Also, at the time we had no idea how many people were involved or what weapons/bombs they had, so staying inside for a day to keep safe seemed like a smart idea, and was.

Posted by: Curious | Jul 26, 2018 11:05:24 AM

My friends from Philly were stuck there a week. Maybe they were lying to get of working.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 26, 2018 1:41:06 PM

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