Within about an hour – almost twice the time allotted by the court – Deputy Solicitor General Eric Feigin met with nine magistrates, all of whom were in full agreement with the government’s argument that Tsarnaev had received a fair trial in just the beginning.
“Then watch a video of [Tsarnaev] by himself personally placing a shrapnel bomb behind a group of children at the Boston Marathon, the jury in this case returned a regional verdict unanimously recommending punitive punishment for specifically intended gesture, “Feigin said.” The court of appeals should have allowed that judgment. stand up. “
The attack left three people dead and more than 200 injured.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year, however, that Tsarnaev’s verdict was tainted because the judge did not adequately ask jurors about pretrial publicity and falsely prevented them from hearing evidence of a suspected murder committed. of Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, in 2011.
The controversy disputing previous killings illustrates that Tamerlan had a history of excessive influence over accomplices and he helped indoctrinate his younger brother to participate in upcoming acts of jihad. Tsarnaev’s lawyer Ginger Anders told magistrates that excluding evidence “altered” the sentencing process that violated Dzhokhar’s constitutional rights.
The three liberal court justices seem sympathetic to the claim that Tsarnaev’s intent to avoid enforcement was damaged.
“This is their defense. They have no other defense. They agreed that he was guilty. The only thing they claimed was not to give me the death penalty because my brother was the moving force,” Justice Stephen Breyer insisted. “Unless there’s a stricter rule of simplification of evidence in a death case than to show probable cause to search for a car, why doesn’t it go in?”
Justice Elena Kagan was the most aggressive in challenging the government’s position, explicitly stating that a jury – not a judge – should decide whether to value mitigating evidence and a mistake to exclude it.
“It’s the jury’s job, isn’t it, to decide on the reliability of the evidence, to decide whether it’s strong evidence or weak evidence that Tamerlan, in fact, played a major role in the other gruesome murder?” Kagan asked Feigin.
Feigin pointed to the history of the Supreme Court of giving broad judgment to court judges on how they choose a jury and admit or reject mitigating evidence. He also argued that the evidence regarding Tamerlan’s role in the 2011 murder in Waltham, Massachusetts, was “very unreliable,” unproven, and would require a “confusing mini-trial” within a trial to establish. only its legitimacy before a jury.
The majority of conservative court magistrates seem willing to agree.
Judge Samuel Alito suggested to the trial judge in Tsarnaev’s case to abide by federal law that, he said, allows “evidence can be excluded if the amount of the probative is greater than the risk of creating unfair discrimination, confuse issues, or deceive the jury. “
Alito warned against the court’s endorsement of a new “whatever happens” standard.
“If the district court finds that, based on the evidence before it, there’s really no way to know who took the leadership role in [alleged Tamerlan] The murder is because the evidence is gone now, the witnesses are not available, what are we going to do there?
Justice Clarence Thomas also seemed to have confirmation with the court’s trial judge, but repeatedly worked on how to justify a reversal of the court’s panel of appeals. “What test … should we use to evaluate the enforcement of authority or to limit that authority?” he asked.
Amid the government’s argument to reinstate Tsarnaev’s execution, Justice Amy Coney Barrett called attention to one of the extreme contradictions in the case: the government was arguing for a death penalty as it stopped carrying them.
“I wonder what’s the government’s end game here?” Barrett asked Feigin. “The government has declared a moratorium on enforcement, but here you are defending his death sentences. And if you win, maybe, that means he was deported under the threat of a death penalty that the government did not plan to carry out. So I’m just having trouble keeping to the point. “
Attorney General Merrick Garland in July announced an indefinite moratorium on federal enforcement as the administration reviewed the policy. President Biden has campaigned in leadership in an effort to stop punitive punishment at the federal level.
“The administration continues to believe that the jury imposed a good verdict and that the appellate court was wrong to overturn that verdict,” Feigin replied.
The Supreme Court is expected to deliver a decision on the case in June 2022.