A hearing was held Tuesday morning for the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been held in prison since his arrest soon after the April bombings. His lawyers asked a judge to ease the restrictions placed on him in prison.
Tsarnaev was not in federal court Tuesday morning, but his attorneys and federal prosecutors were. Both sides were taking part in a pre-trial conference that lasted about 90 minutes.
Judge George O’Toole, who is taking part in this phase of the trial, said he would not set a trial date right now, although the government indicated they’d like to get going in fall of 2014. The defense said that’s way too soon and they need more time.
They also took up the issue of discovery. Defense attorneys told the judge that they weren’t getting the kind of information they feel they’re entitled to under the law.
Prosecutors said that’s not the case; they said they’re giving the defense everything they need and what’s required of them.
They also took up the issue of special administrative measures that have been placed on the alleged marathon bomber. Access to him has been restricted by the government out of safety concerns, but defense attorneys say they need to have better access to their client to prepare his defense.
NECN legal analyst Randy Chapman discussed these measures with us and said there are a lot of restrictions in this case. He said the concern in this case is one of safety: is this particular individual going to trigger some type of additional terrorist activity.
“It’s trying to strike a balance between the defendant’s right to a full and complete defense and the public’s concern of its safety because it may trigger some kind of terrorist reaction.” Chapman said.
There was no decision made Tuesday morning regarding these restrictions. The judge said that he would take it under advisement.
In the end of January 2014, the government said it will make a decision whether or not it will seek the death penalty in this case.
In February 2014, the defense will have to file its motion for dismissal or change of venue.