Boston bombing trial location raises problem

Addison Smith | Opinions Editor

April 15, 2013 was a day that shook the United States to its core. The Boston Marathon was bombed in Copley Square. Three were killed while 264 others were injured from two pressure cookers exploding.

Two brothers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were charged as prime suspects. Tamerlan was shot in a firefight and then run over by a stolen SUV by Dzhokhar in his attempt to escape on April 18. Dzhokhar was later found in a manhunt on April 19 hiding in a boat in Watertown.

Now, a year and a half later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands trial in Massachusetts. He faces multiple charges, most significantly, planting the bombs at the Boston Marathon with his brother and the ambush and murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier in Tsarnaev’s escape on April 18.

The jury is in the process of being selected for the trial, but the most interesting aspect was the denial of Tsarnaev’s plea to be tried in a different state on Jan. 3. According to The New York Times, Tsarnaev’s lawyers said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could not receive a fair trial in the same city the bombing affected. His lawyers argued that the city is traumatized by the bombing, and because of that, jurors will not listen to all evidence presented and have a bias against Tsarnaev before the trial even begins.

However, the whole nation was made aware of Tsarnaev’s accused actions, and the whole nation was shaken when an act of terrorism was supposedly committed by citizens of the United States. The New York Times recently posted a six part discussion of the trial being held in Boston entitled “When a Local Jury Won’t Do.” Experts on juries and the American legal system took time to speak out about the location of the trial.

A few stated that holding the trial in Boston was the right decision, claiming that the city he supposedly affected with a bombing deserves to be the one to try. Others argued that the trial should have been moved, as American citizens have the right to a fair trial and it may not be as fair as it could be elsewhere with the community he affected in juror pools.

Yes, the city of Boston seemingly should be the one to convict Tsarnaev if he is found guilty, but at the same time, the likelihood of a perfectly clean jury pool seems doubtful. All this said, the jury picking process seems to be going smoothly so far, with potential jurors filling out questionnaires about their knowledge of the events.

However, as stated earlier, the whole nation was shaken by the bombing, therefore he would be a victim of an unfair trial wherever he was set to go. Those who stated that the city of Boston would judge him more harshly seemed most in-tune with the right to a fair trial.

Needless to say, it’s hard to determine exactly where the trial should be held. Does the community he supposedly affected deserve to be the one to put him in jail? Does he deserve a jury pool that has no memory of the Boston bombing? A fair trial would seemingly be one with no outside factors considered, and this is a boy whose police search was nationally televised. The day he was taken into custody, every major news network was following the scene. Everyone saw his face plastered on televisions at home, in restaurants or wherever it could be watched.

Tsarnaev may not have the fairest trial if the city that was so clearly shaken is behind the decision to convict him of these crimes or not. However, the entire nation was shaken when the bombs were detinated, not just the city of Boston. Could his trial have been fair anywhere with a clean jury?

There’s no clear answer to where the trial should be held, but for the fairest option, moving it may have the best move they didn’t go through with.