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Tsarnaev Convicted on All Counts

The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts today.

The Boston Globe, in an editorial, urges a life sentence.

For jurors who believe execution should be reserved for the worst criminals, the lawyers laid out a clear path to conclude Dzhokhar wasn’t even the worst of the Tsarnaevs.

....Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record. By themselves, none of these would seem like a particularly good reason to spare him, but taken as a whole, and alongside evidence of his brother’s dominant role, they should plant seeds of doubt.

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Govt Rests in Tsarnaev Trial

The Government ended its case in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with gory photos of the autopsy of child victim Martin Richards. At least three jurors cried, according to reporters tweeting from the courtroom.

An FBI photographer testified earlier this morning about where Tsarnaev was standing in relation to Richards. The Government tried to make the argument that Tsarnaev deliberately targeted the 8 year old. On cross, the defense showed other photos that had two people standing between Jahar and the boy, and pointed out Jahar walked away right after the first bomb went off, while the Richards family stayed where they were.

The witness used a diagram that, at the direction of the government, didn't depict the other people standing between Jahar and Richards. On Cross: [More...]

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Carjack Victim Testifies in Tsarnaev Trial

Dun Meng, the Chinese national whose Mercedes was carjacked by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, testified today about his ordeal. He said Tamerlan was alone when he carjacked him, threatened him with a gun and then had him drive around for 20 to 30 minutes before they picked up Jahar.

During cross-examination by the defense, Meng acknowledged that Tamerlan was the one who jumped in his car and threatened him with a gun. He said Dzhokhar barely spoke to him, except to ask if the sound system in his car would work with his iPhone.

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Tsarnaev: FBI Agent Clueless on Tweets

In the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial today, defense attorney Miriam Conrad reportedly shredded the testimony of FBI agent David Kimball about tweeting during cross-examination. Yesterday, Kimball testifed to a second twitter account Dzhokhar had called Ghuraba and read tweets from it as well as from his first account. The goal was to make Dzkhokhar seem like a "radicalized killer."

That fell apart today. Among other things, Kimball misidentified a mosque in Grozny as Mecca. He didn't know that many of the tweets were rap song lyrics or were quotes from Comedy Central and other shows. He didn't know the meaning of many slang words. (He guessed "mad cooked" meant crazy. It means high.) He admitted he hadn't even looked up the tweets he was testifying about. He just went with what prosecutors gave him. [More...]

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Tsarnaev: Judy Clarke's Opening Statement

Here are some quotes from reporters in the courtroom who listened to Judy Clarke's opening statement in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial: Catherine Parrotta, Fox News and Jim Armstrong of WBZ (CBS):

"We meet in the most tragic of circumstances."

The circumstances that bring us here today still are difficult to grasp, are incomprehensible, are inexcusable.

For the next several weeks we are all going to come face to face with unbearable grief. We're going to see it, feel it, and agonize with every witness

"We will not sidestep Tsarnaev's responsibility for his actions" [More...]

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All White Jury Chosen in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial

The jury has been selected and opening arguments begin tomorrow in the death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with the Boston Marathon bombings. According to media reports, all of the 18 jurors and alternates are white. (More than 1,300 people were initially summoned for potential jury service in the case.)

The defense filed a motion a few weeks ago challenging the jury pool, saying the juror groups had been reordered by the court resulting in a statistically lower pool of minority jurors. [More...]

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Tsarnaev Trial to Stay in Boston

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request to order his trial moved from Boston due to the inability to seat a fair and impartial jury. The vote was 2 to 1:

In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella wrote that media coverage from the date of the bombing through the current pre-trial process has been “unparalleled in American legal history,” and that in the face of such publicity “it is absurd to suggest that Tsarnaev will receive a fair and impartial trial in the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts.”

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial: Jury Selection Begins

Prospective jurors arrived at the federal courthouse in Boston this morning to fill out lengthy juror questionnaires for the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In December, the Government and defense agreed on the explanatory remarks the judge should make when explaining the process to them. While the judge may have made some modifications, you can can read them here to get a general idea of what they were told.

Here is a good primer from the ABA on jury questionnaires.[More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Appears in Court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of committing the Boston Marathan bombing, was in court this morning. Reporters in the courtroom are live-tweeting. Almost all say he appeared much more alert, interested and engaged in the proceedings than at his prior appearance. He smiled when talking to his attorney Judy Clarke.

He wore slacks and a sweater, not an orange jumpsuit. He has a short beard and his hair is longer than at his last appearance.

As I wrote Monday, the Government asked for him to appear so that he could be quizzed about whether he is satisfied with his counsel, in case he is convicted and claims differently in an appeal. Today Dzhokhar (aka Jahar) assured the court he was satisfied with his attorneys, answering "Very much so." (One reporter tweeted he answered "Pretty much" and another said he responded "Yes Sir." Are they attending the same proceeding?)

One reporter said the Judge ruled the witness lists will be sealed until the jury is seated. Another said the judge said he will release the list on Dec. 28. [More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: 17 Months Later

It has been 17 months since the public has seen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. At the request of prosecutors, he will make his first court appearance since July, 2013 this week. I wrote a long post on his incredibly restrictive jail conditions back in April, 2013, describing the SAMS ("special administrative measures") imposed on him.

Yahoo News has a detailed update, which I highly recommend reading. [More...]

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Robel Phillipos: Guilty Verdict on Five of Nine Alleged Statements

Robel Phillipos has been found guilty of making five of the nine false statements alleged in the Indictment. The jury found he lied about both false statements charged in Count 1 and three of the nine statements charged in Count 2. He will remain on bond and house arrest through sentencing.

Shorter version: He did not lie about what he saw or heard in the dorm room. He lied about not being in the dorm room at all, and learning afterwards that his friends had taken the backpack from the dorm room. He did not lie when he denied discussing get rid of the backpack with his friends. The jury rejected the FBI's "written confession" by Robel. [More...]

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4th Day of Jury Deliberations in Robel Phillipos Trial

The jury is in its fourth day of deliberations in the trial of Robel Phillipos, the friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with two counts of making a false statement to federal officials in a terror investigation. Count One pertains to his statements to authorities on April 20, 2013, and Count 2 relates to statements made on April 25, 2013.

One of the reasons it may be taking so long: The jury must be unanimous as to any particular false statement he made. While there are only two counts, there are two allegedly false statements in the first count and seven in the second count. The jury has to discuss and arrive at a consensus on each. [More....]

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Robel Philippos: Verdict Watch

The jury has been deliberating for an hour in in the trial of Robel Philippos,the friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is charged with lying to the FBI. Closing arguments were held this morning.

Prosecutors say Phillipos, 21, lied to investigators about his whereabouts and what he saw on April 18, 2013, when he and two friends allegedly visited Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed a backpack of evidence after the marathon bombings. After several interviews, Phillipos signed a written confession admitting he had lied and that he regretted doing so.

Phillipos’s defense team contends that he was a scared 19-year-old at the time who was “high out of his mind” during interviews with investigators and could not remember clearly. The confession, they argued, was coerced by investigators.

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No Venue Change for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's jury trial will remain in Boston. The judge denied a change of venue yesterday. He did grant a two month continuance, until January, 2015. The 10 page order is here.

I recommend reading the defense expert's report. It is very well written and really gives a sense of the factors that need to be considered. It is available here.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Seeks End to " SAMS" Restrictions

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers have filed a motion to end the SAMS restrictions on Tsarnaev and his legal team.

The SAMS imposed on Tsarnaev are attached to the motion as an exhibit. Take a minute to read them. But for all the alphabet references to federal agencies, I would have thought the jail was in Russia. The motion is here.

The documents also contain some interesting Government theories about Dzhokhar, some of which are at odds with other information released by the Government (the motion discusses this aspect.)

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