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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Boston Bombing Trial Will Stay Put, Court Says

(CN) - Jury selection began in today in the trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, after the 1st Circuit denied his last-minute petition for a change of venue on Saturday.

Tsarnaev filed an emergency motion with the appellate court last week, asking it to stay jury selection and put off his trial until a new venue for his trial could be selected.

The accused bomber claimed that given the city was practically shut down during the five-day manhunt that followed the attack, every Bostonian could be considered a victim, making jury selection highly prejudicial.

"We deny the petition and hold only that petitioner has not made the extraordinary showing required to justify mandamus relief," wrote Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch in a terse opinion joined by U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Howard.

U.S. Circuit Judge Juan Torruella dissented from the ruling, stating "I have found it impossible to read even a small part of all this evidence, much less give it the careful consideration a case involving the death penalty deserves."

The documents and exhibits in the case total over 9,500 pages.

Torruella claimed that the panel only received the government's response to the petition six hours before issuing its ruling.

"Because of these difficulties, I am not in a position to intelligently opine as to whether the standard for mandamus relief has been satisfied," Torruella said. "What I do know is that Tsarnaev's argument that the entire city of Boston and its surrounding areas were victimized - as evidenced by the city's virtual lockdown and the images of SWAT team members roaming the streets and knocking door-to-door in Watertown - is compelling."

Given the importance of this case, and the irreparable harm a prejudiced jury may cause to Tsarnaev, Torruella said due process demands a more considered ruling.

The majority said it "regret[ed]" Torruella's statement that the matter had only been considered for six hours, and instead characterized its review as "careful and painstaking."

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