Can Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Find Impartial Jury?

boston marathon

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother of the two suspects allegedly involved in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and his lawyers have requested that the trial be moved to Washington, DC, in an effort to find a jury that will be impartial.  Under ordinary circumstances, this is a smart move, as there are a number of instances throughout any criminal proceedings where a change of venue has been warranted.  Certainly, this is no exception, but given the crime garnered international attention, is it even possible for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to find an impartial jury?

As it is, the Boston Marathon is a hugely popular world event, and when the bombings occurred April 15, 2013, all eyes were focused squarely on Boston.  Millions watched as a huge effort rolled out to try and capture the pair that were believed to have conducted this heinous crime.  Boston itself was certainly paralyzed with fear, save for their courageous police force, as their beloved city went into lockdown.  To be sure, no one in Boston will be able to look at Tsarnaev with an impartial eye during his trial, but is a change of venue going to change Tsarnaev’s fate?

The writer is fully aware that the suspect’s lawyer has a very specific job to do in this instance, and one part of that job is to ensure that his client gets a fair trial.  One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to change up the venue, but in this case, it is doubtful that much will change.  Thanks to the crush of media reports on Tsarnaev and his older brother, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing does not have much hope in securing himself an impartial jury.

As Boston fought to recover from the tragedy, there was a wave of feel-good news reports about how people pulled together to help each other; the many who had undergone amputations are now recovered and rebuilding their lives, and there have even been marriages that have resulted from this tragedy.  Let’s not lose sight, however, of the fact that this was, indeed, a tragedy, one that was allegedly created by a pair of Chechen brothers who believed they were fighting for a cause bigger than themselves.  Now, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is presumably recovered from his own physical injuries – not much is really known about the young man’s physical condition – and has presumably justified his older brother’s death in his own head in order to cope with any grief he might be feeling.

The bottom line is, a change of venue is about as likely to secure the surviving Tsarnaev brother an impartial jury as it is to secure him a spot on the next NASA mission.  It is true that the young man’s lawyer is only doing what he has been trained to do; his lawyer is supposed to function in the best interests of his client, and a change of venue may be one step in pursuing Tsarnaev’s best interests.  However, the international attention that this crime garnered means that this surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect will have a distinct problem in finding any location in the world that will not have already looked at him and convicted him, regardless of what the evidence truly may show.

Opinion by Christina St-Jean


Columbus Dispatch

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