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Boston College Expert: Death Sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Robert Bloom

PROF. ROBERT BLOOM
BOSTON COLLEGE LAW SCHOOL

(617) 894-1781 (cell)
robert.bloom@bc.edu

Robert Bloom has been widely quoted by national and local media outlets on a number of high profile cases, particularly the James “Whitey” Bulger case. He specializes in Constitutional law; civil rights; criminal and civil trials; court system; police abuse; police use of informants; Fourth Amendment; police interrogation; judges and jurors. A former civil rights attorney and assistant district attorney, Bloom is the author of numerous books and articles including: Ratting: The Use and Abuse of Informants in the American Justice System and Constitutional Criminal Procedure.

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5-15-15

“If one reads the jury form, the jury literally had to look at these death eligible charges and determine the atrocity of it. Was it unusually heinous? And they were forced to look at each of those and then weigh the mitigating circumstances with each. So they needed to say life, life, life for all of those charges and for one of the charges, perhaps the death of Martin Richard, they said this is particularly atrocious, this is really an aggravating circumstance and nothing, nothing would mitigate that. All it took was a unanimous vote for death on any one of the counts. And that’s what happened.

Given how heinous the crime was, and I think the prosecution did a good job in talking about how heinous it was, I can’t help but believe some of Tsarnaev’s demeanor during the trial - where he teared up when he saw a relative cry on the stand but showed no emotion during the testimony of the horrible acts - influenced the jury to some extent.

I don’t know that this verdict surprises me. Even though this is a non-death penalty state, the particularly heinousness of the crime moved the jury to vote for death.

One of the effective prosecution arguments was Tsarnaev didn’t want to die – his defense fought for life in prison - so why should he be able to choose? What right does he have to be able to choose the punishment? He fought for life in prison. Given the heinousness of the crime, the jury may have been thinking: Why should we give him any choice? Why should we honor his choice?”

 

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Media Note: For assistance or to request a source on another topic, please contact Sean Hennessey, BC Office of News & Public Affairs: (617) 552-3630 (o);  (617) 943-4323 (c);  sean.hennessey@bc.edu

 

Contact information for additional Boston College faculty sources on a range of subjects is available at: /offices/pubaf/journalist/experts.html