Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published August 23, 2014 at 9:07 AM | Page modified August 23, 2014 at 2:04 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments
  • Print

Marathon bombing suspect's lawyers seek dismissal

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge on Friday to dismiss indictments against the Boston Marathon bombing suspect and put on hold further proceedings in the case over concerns about the process of selecting jurors in federal court.


Associated Press

advertising

BOSTON —

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge on Friday to dismiss indictments against the Boston Marathon bombing suspect and put on hold further proceedings in the case over concerns about the process of selecting jurors in federal court.

Tsarnaev's attorneys said in a motion that a three-year review they conducted into the makeup of both grand juries and trial juries in the District of Massachusetts turned up "substantial violations" of both the federal jury selection law and a constitutional requirement that juries represent a fair cross section of the population.

Specifically, the lawyers cited an underrepresentation of African-Americans and people over 70 on juries.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, set off the two bombs at the Boston Marathon's finish line last year, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

Rules used in the Massachusetts district to select jurors allow people over 70 to opt out of jury service, the attorneys wrote, violating the fair cross section requirement of the U.S. Constitution.

About 96 percent of people age 70 or older who were summoned for duty on the grand jury that indicted Tsarnaev opted out of service, the motion said, and a similar percentage of people over 70 opted out from all juries in the eastern division of the district between 2011-2013.

"Being over age 70, like race, sex and national origin, is an immutable characteristic -- one cannot get younger -- and exclusion on the basis of such a characteristic gives rise to the appearance of unfairness," the lawyers wrote in the 15-page motion.

The motion also cited a failure in many cases to mail replacement summons for jury service when original summons are returned as undeliverable by the post office. The court's rule requires the clerk to choose, at random, the name of another resident who lives in the same zip code as the one that came back as undeliverable.

In the case of the jury pool that was used to create the grand jury that indicted Tsarnaev, about 5 percent of summons came back as undeliverable, but no replacement summons were sent, the defense claimed.

Federal prosecutors had not yet responded to the motion and an after-hours message left with the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston was not immediately returned.

Defense attorneys asked for dismissal of the indictment and a halt to proceedings in the case pending what they called "reconstitution of the jury wheel."

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges and could face the death penalty if convicted. He is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 3, though his lawyers have said they will likely not be ready by that date.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police days after the explosion.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►