The day of the Boston Marathon Bombings was one of the most horrible days in recent memory. I have never been so close to such overwhelming violence. The days that followed were no less tense as Boston shut down in order to find Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
As Watertown shutdown early Friday morning, sounds of army vehicles and military helicopters nearby, my roommates and I gathered around our TV to watch with the rest of the world. After flipping through a few channels, one thing became crystal clear; their faces were everywhere, the faces of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I think I can speak for a lot of people by acknowledging and commending the work of law enforcement personnel in bringing Tamerlan to justice and Dzhokhar into custody.
It has now been over a month since the terror attack on Boston. As we all slowly heal from the heartache this tragic set of circumstances has inflicted, the wheels of the US justice system turn. Judy Clarke has recently been assigned as Tsarnaev’s defense attorney. Her reputation for saving her clients’ lives has sparked the question: What will come of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
Clarke is a criminal defense attorney who has had more than a few notorious clients that she has kept from capital punishment. Clarke has also been referred as one of the most skilled defense attorneys in the United States. She is known as an attorney who is able to see passed heinous crimes in order to preserve humanity.
Her list of clients includes people such as: Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother who was convicted of drowning her two children in 1995; Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber;” Zacarias Moussaouri, who pled guilty to assisting in the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City; and more recently, Jared Loughner, who killed six people and injured thirteen others when he opened fire at a Safeway Supermarket in Arizona.
Like Tsarnaev, they all faced the death penalty. The efforts of Clark, however, left them with life in prison.
Clarke doesn’t give interviews or respond to comments. However, she has previously served as the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And while giving the keynote address at a forum at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, CA, Clarke expressed that it was her job to convince her clients, “to fight for life in prison as an alternative to the death penalty.” “They’re looking into the lens of life in prison in a box,” she said. “Our job is to provide them with a reason to live.”
The following are my own theories on how Clark could present Tsarnaev’s defense.
Her strongest argument is that Tsarnaev is only nineteen years old. With age of minority being eighteen years old, Tsarnaev shows an immaturity. However unlikely it is that a judge accept this argument, it will certainly be made in the event this matter proceeds to trial.
A second argument is that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was influenced and under the control of his older brother. It has been reported that Tamerlan was far more radicalized than his younger brother. On the day of Tsarnaev’s manhunt, numerous friends and classmates stated how “normal” and even how “friendly” he was. Therefore, it can be argued that it was Tamerlan’s negative influence that encouraged and perhaps forced Dzhokhar’s participation.
Only time will provide us Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s fate. Perhaps he will receive capital punishment. Perhaps Clarke will succeed again. No matter what his legal fate or what he deserves, the battle that is primed to ensue will without a doubt be fiercely fought and interesting to watch unfold.
Comment whether you think Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will get the death penalty or a life sentence and why!
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Written by Vishakha P. Patel, 1L New England Law | Boston