September 18, 2020

OPINION: No peers for Tsarnaev in Mass.

With the trial for the alleged “ Boston Marathon bomber” Dzokhar Tsarnaev being postponed until January, council has more time to select the proper jury for this very sensitive trial.  The judge already denied moving the trial outside the Boston Metropolitan area; however, jurors are expected to be pooled from the Greater Boston Area, which can be problematic.

Tsarnaev is being charged with a total of 30 counts revolving the terrorist attack near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  As a result of the bombings, three people died and over 250 were injured.

Because the trials haven’t started, there is not much available evidence to the public surrounding Tsarnaev’s innocent or guilty nature.  As a result, not much can be said on the decision that will be decided by a supposed jury of his peers.  Either way, a jury is posed with the task of deciding Tsarnaev’s fate, including the death penalty.  The issue present is that a group of objectionable people cannot be found in Massachusetts for this particular case due to a combination of proximity to the attack as well as heavy media coverage.

Though not always done in practice, the principle behind a jury of the convicted person’s peers allows for an objective point of view that can interpret presented information in order to, theoretically, fairly convict someone.  In a case so severe as this one, which concerns a person’s life, the decision made by the jury is incredibly difficult.

Jury selection is supposed to commence in early January, when thousands of people from Massachusetts will be pooled and interviewed to serve jury duty.  According to The Boston Globe, citizens over 18 from Eastern Massachusetts are eligible to qualify if they are determined to be capable of handing out the death penalty.  Disregarding the moral issue of the death penalty, this also poses a question asking whether or not it is indeed just to have people from Eastern Massachusetts, or Massachusetts at all, be sitting on that Jury bench come January.

For those who were present at the marathon or who have emotional ties to the event, the trial is also a difficult time. When emotions swell, reason disappears leading to impulsive, and sometimes, detrimental actions.  This is exactly why it is extremely unlikely that any person living in Eastern Massachusetts, or the state as a whole, can enter the trials without a pre-conceived notion of Tsarnaev as well as the self-control to put their emotions aside to allow for due process.

While it will probably be difficult to find an eligible juror in the United States who has no knowledge of such a heavily covered event, it is impossible to assemble a completely un-biased and minimally informed stand of juries for this trial in Massachusetts.  Council will find the search easier outside the region.

(Natasha Ladhani ’16, Features Editor)

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