Apr 11, 2015

Boston Marathon Bombing Verdict/Revised

In a state of mourning today over the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty verdict in the Boston Marathon Bombing trial - though the verdict was certainly expected and no surprise. I've followed this case meticulously in exact detail from the first day (the only way to make sense of it). Living as I am in the Czech Republic, the site of one of the most notorious, infamous Soviet show trials of the 50's (the Rudolf Slansky Trial), it is disheartening in the extreme to witness something so similar in one's own country. During the Slansky trial, the teenage son of one of the defendants wrote an open letter to the government calling for the execution of his father for his heinous 'crimes against the state'. After the Slansky trial victims were cleared of all charges in 1963 and exonerated and rehabilitated in 1968, the young man committed suicide. Will such a moment ever come for us and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
73% of Americans polled are calling for his execution, 24% for life imprisonment without possibility of parole, 2% for neither, and 1% "don't know". I am firmly with the 2%. At this point in American history, it is a good place to be. If you question the verdict in any way or suggest the possibility of a 'set-up' or black ops conspiracy, you are immediately branded a 'truther' and 'conspiracy theorist'. But I will not belabor the point here. 
The prosecution has just released the full set of evidence exhibited on line. 
Not a single backpack has been admitted into evidence. Those of us who have followed the case closely over these past three years know why. Those who are interested can do their own research. 

For those who wish a more objective, alternative news source for the Boston Bombings, the one of the best sights on line is here: WhoWhatWhy.Org. Cautious, responsible, muted, but critical. 

Tom Fontaine also has a website devoted to the case, packed with vital information. I might have wished he had showed more restraint in its design and colors, because the lurid appearance only sensationalizes the issue and plays into the hands of "Conspiracy Theory Debunkers."

However, the most extensive database of critical articles from investigative journalists is here at The Boston Marathon Bombings: What Happened? Five minutes on this site should convince an objective reader that these are sober, responsible, critical people, not crazies, tin hat conspiracy theorists, frothers or trolls. There is so much psychological denial in American culture which makes it so difficult for alternative positions to get a hearing. 

Here is an example: From their most recent opinion piece on the verdict:

Opinion Tsarnaev:  The Fallacy of Justice in a Death Penalty Trial

by O.L.Coach  April 10, 2015

For all intents and purposes, the trial on the evidence is over. The next phase will be focused on saving the life of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But before anyone moves to suggest Judy Clark and the Defense team should be hung in effigy for "losing" this case, I recommend we step back and take a moment to give some consideration to why they might have taken the path they are on.  Granted, this is fraught with peril, as I am seeing through a glass darkly, but let us at least consider other explanations that move beyond what we are reading in the media.

Early on, this high-profile Defense team set the expectations bar down around our ankles.  They complained frequently and with a flurry of motions they were having trouble meeting professional and ethical requirements to provide a thorough and vigorous defense of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev because of limited access to evidence, Court rulings completely excluding access to specific evidence requested because of Prosecution's protestations it was irrelevant or unobtainable, unduly and unprecedented acceleration of the trial timeline, and the Prosecution’s release of evidence untagged/stamped or after much foot-dragging, thereby rendering it difficult to sort through the mounds of collected data from a crime scene spanning a region, if not multiple countries.  

I suggested then, if that was how the Prosecution and Court was going to play it, why didn't the Defense team simply quit and walk away from the case, or better yet, not provide any kind of peer recognized defense at all for their client?   In this way, they could force a show down by forcing the Court to replace them. Here and elsewhere I was roundly criticized for suggesting such a thing! No attorney worth his or her salt would do this in good conscience to a vulnerable client, and if they did they risked being disbarred and certainly would find it difficult securing clients in the future...

Since the Defense rested days ago and following the verdict - the Defense team has been heavily criticized for apparently doing just that—offering no defense at all during the ‘guilt’ phase of the trial. And after thinking it over some I would like to venture a guess as to why.

First I am assuming these are world class legal minds that most of us are second guessing and therefore, we should at least consider they know more about the law, strategy and tactics than most of us (all put together) do and deserve to be heard and given the benefit of doubt at a minimum.

Second, they are committed opponents of the death penalty. Unlike most of us, their commitment to a social cause as serious as the abolition of the death penalty results in their active engagement in the struggle against it, probably on a daily basis. In other words, they don't just pay lip service. They donate time and money to the fight.  

Third, there are close to a thousand sealed motions in this case.  What is being hidden here?  What is being kept from the public?
Finally, after two years of studying every rumor, innuendo and opinion, reading every eye witness account, watching every snippet of available video and audio, scrutinizing every photograph, listening to every scanner feed—it’s impossible to watch the evidence coming out of the trial without perceiving glaring inconsistencies, contradictions, seemingly out-and-out lies and a possible cover up of immense proportions.

So assuming all of the above is true, how to reconcile the apparent Defense strategy of rolling over in the guilt phase when it would seem to scream to high heaven for an immediate rectification?

Speaking hypothetically, if I am a committed opponent of the death penalty and boxed in by considerations deemed both political and of a national security nature, what do I do?  I, in defiance of the system, put on the best defense those limitations are allowing me to work with and expose not only this specific trial, but the entire federal death penalty process for the sham hypocrisy that it is.  It is my contention that the Defense is making a mockery of this trial and the federal death penalty system by putting on the defense they have been "allowed" to put on before an obviously biased jury, before an obviously biased judge - nothing more and nothing less.  

 If there is a better example of the ridiculousness of the federal death penalty system than this case, I don't know what it is.  Only death penalty attorneys know the insanity of arguing passionately for your client’s innocence in the guilt phase of the trial, only to have to turn around and beg for leniency and show remorse to the same jury that convicted you in the first place. The system is terribly flawed because it forces Defendants to make a choice between life and death, rather than guilt or innocence.  And in cases where the cards are stacked against you, as in terrorist cases (or FBI shootings 150-0), the only hope is that evidence will come to light outside of the trial (such as a whistleblower) that forces a revision of the original conviction.  

 Maybe that is the point of this meaningless defense. Maybe, just maybe they are forcing the case to be re-tried outside of the court system altogether -or at a minimum, as in this case, outside of Boston and as far away from this Court as possible.