Boston Marathon Bombings Case Should Be Tried Anywhere But Boston [Op-Ed]

Boston Bombings Trial Anywhere But Boston

Is there anyone in the city of Boston who doesn’t believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is at least partially responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings? It’s highly unlikely. And yet, this is the population that the prosecution in the Tsarnaev case expects to somehow produce an impartial jury — preferably, a jury made up of people who were ignorant of the details of the trial.

This means finding citizens who had no idea what happened during the Boston Marathon, no knowledge of a killed police officer, and were somehow unaware of how or why Boston was shut down during an intense manhunt. The chase itself went viral, to the point where Boston and federal law enforcement officials were forced to go radio silent to keep people from tweeting their position and planned strategies. Of course, much of the case has been the talk of the nation over the past couple of years, most especially in Boston.

With this in mind, it’s a bit too optimistic to suggest that this city will give us a pool of unbiased jurors for one of the biggest trials in recent history. Honestly, I have my doubts.

Of course, it’s understandable why the prosecutors are fighting so hard against the request by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s court-appointed attorney, Judith Mizner, to move the trial.

The city of Boston was the victim of a horrific terror attack. These are the people most eager for and deserving of justice. And then there is the fact that, with Tsarnaev pretty much guilty in the eyes of the vast majority, it should be very easy to convict.

The death penalty is another matter, but a conviction with as little resistance as possible is the goal.

The federal judge overseeing the case says that 61 of the 70 persons needed for a suitable jury pool has been produced.

However, Mizner doesn’t believe this is possible, claiming that Boston-area residents are too emotionally attached to the trial.

Aside from the snowy weather, the selection process has been slow. This is because a number of potential jurors either already believe that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty or were somehow personally affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Even if the federal judge reaches the required number and the case moves toward an inevitable conviction, what will also be inevitable is the appeal — and it would be shocking if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team weren’t able to win, because when the Boston Bombing trial is held in Boston with a suspect that is already pegged guilty, there’s no way that anyone can argue that it was a fair trial.

It may feel irrelevant if you already believe that Dzhokhar is guilty, but it is not irrelevant if you believe in the American justice system and that all suspects must be treated as innocent until they are proven guilty. When this is haphazardly thrown out the window, there is no justification. Only a dangerous precedent that will work to harm everything that America stands for. Is this really the case where we, as Americans, want to throw away one of the proud defining characteristics of our system at work?

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a pool of potential jurors in another location where people aren’t nearly as intimately affected by the case as those in the Boston area. There’s no reason the Boston Marathon Bombings trial can’t be moved to another city with the optimistic expectation of a conviction. It will certainly make it more difficult to argue a violation of due process when the case is over.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]