Boston Bomber Sentencing: Hank Brennan, Boston Legal Scholar, Explains the Death Penalty Phase

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is set to begin the sentencing phase of his trial. To understand the jury's responsibilities, Hank Brennan, former Boston prosecutor and current defense attorney in the appeal for notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger agreed to explain.

Federal Death Penalty Act

The next phase of the United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial is what is commonly called the "death penalty phase." In Federal Court the procedure has been codified and is known as the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA). This statue can be found at U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228.  

The jury will consider both aggravating and mitigating circumstances relative to the qualifying convictions.

A qualifying conviction is an indictment (often called a charge) that the defendant was found guilty for which qualifies for the penalty of death. Not all convictions qualify for the death penalty.  

The prosecution will call witnesses, primarily victims or family members of victims.  The witnesses have an opportunity to emote and may testify to the impact inflicted upon them by the defendant's acts or they may read pre-written impact statements describing the physical, emotional, and financial impact caused by the defendant's crimes.

The defense may also introduce witnesses to attempt to demonstrate any relevant mitigating factor on behalf of the defendant. After considering the evidence the jury decides whether death should be imposed. If the jury chooses that death should not be imposed, the judge will impose a sentence that will inevitably be a life sentence without parole.  

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors are found in U.S. Code Title 18, Part II c.228  § 3592.

Mitigating factors include impaired capacity, duress, being a minor participant, no prior criminal record, equally or more culpable co-defendant, and other factors including the defendant's past character.  

Aggravating factors are numerous and include whether death occurred during the commission of another crime, a grave risk of death to additional persons, if the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim, substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person or commit an act of terrorism, the particular vulnerability of the victim due to old age, youth, or infirmity, and whether the defendant intentionally killed or attempted to kill more than one person in a single criminal episode.

Jury Determines Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

The jury's must return special finding identifying any aggravating factors. All jurors must unanimously agree for any aggravating factor to be deemed established.

A finding of any mitigating factor, however, may be made by 1 or more members of the jury. Upon a finding of a mitigating factor by at least one member of the jury, the factor is deemed established.

The jury will consider whether all the aggravating factor or factors found to exist sufficiently outweigh all the mitigating factor or factors found to exist to justify a sentence of death, or, in the absence of a mitigating factor, whether the aggravating factor or factors alone are sufficient to justify a sentence of death. The jury will then recommend whether the defendant should be sentenced to death, to life imprisonment without possibility of release or some other lesser sentence.

A recommendation to sentence to death must be by a unanimous vote.

Haute Tease

  • Earthquake Hits Bay Area; Scores Injured; Three Critically

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area this morning causing small pockets of damage as the quake rolled through the northern California wine country, startling sleeping residents of the Napa Valley region.

     
  • LA Arts: Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures Announces Its Inaugural Exhibitions

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Kerry Brougher, Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, announced today Hayao Miyazaki followed by Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900–1970 will be the inaugural exhibitions on view when the Museum opens in late 2019. 

     
  • Willem Dafoe: The Man Behind The Mask

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    JOHN CARTER, the Sci-Fi action adventure, from Walt Disney Studio Pictures, and Academy Award winning Director Andrew Stanton recently hosted the global media day in advance of the March 9th opening.

     
  • Marcolin Group and Rivoli Group Sign a Joint Venture to Distribute Luxury Eyewear Collections in Middle East

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Marcolin Group, a worldwide leading eyewear company, announced today to have signed a joint venture agreement with Rivoli Group, one of the largest luxury retailers in the Middle East area, for long-term distribution in the luxury retailers exclusive eyewear space.

     
  • Overly Self Critical? Five Tips to Tame The Critical and Shape it Into Your New Best Friend

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Go on your Facebook or Instagram feed and you'll be hard pressed not to find selfies of people flexing at the gym or sunbathing in a bikini. Sprinkled in are ads for skin creams, weight management shakes, hair restoration, cosmetic procedures and butt lifting yoga pants.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump/Saudi Sanctions; Khashoggi Ambushed; Brexit Redux; China Builds A Bridge; Crimea Erupts; Paul Allen

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump, since the news Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had Washington Post journalist Jamel Khashoggi murdered, has skirted a hardline position reserving his usual assertive and uncompromising stance for mild rebukes while the world demands justice.

     
  • Kristen Bell, Bobby Flay, Taye Diggs, Tom Colicchio and Naked Juice Do Some Good with Their Selfies

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Grab a Pineapple, squeeze those melons, take a selfie holding your favorite produce and post with the hash tag #DrinkGoodDoGood, and Naked Juice, the delicious fruit and vegetable drink, will donate up to 10 lbs of produce to needy communities.

     
  • World News: Little Story of Emptiness and Excellence

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The poverty of French political discourse raises questions about the capacity of our society to renew itself and to emerge from a facility that borders on passivity and institutionalized mediocrity and evolve into a thriving multicultural mecca.

     
  • The 22nd Annual COLCOA French Film Festival Opens

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Promise at Dawn, from Director Eric Barbier, opened the 22nd Annual COLCOA French Film Festival, the oft time hilarious story of an overbearing single mother, her son, her aspirations for him and society in pre-war Europe.

     
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas Review – A Magical Holiday Treat For All

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Man Who Invented Christmas, from Bleecker Street Media, presents the story of  young Charles Dickens, struggling to create, in six short weeks, what would become the best loved Christmas story of all time, A Christmas Carol.

     
  • Teen, Tortured and Shamed by Dad, Commits Suicide

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Isabel Laxamana, a beautiful raven haired ‘tween, suffered the brutalities of bullying when her father believing discipline, including shaming, would stop any future poor social media choices chopped off her long hair on camera and uploaded the video.

     
  • Q4 2018 Hedge Fund Holdings: Top Stocks, New Buys & More

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hedge funds didn't have a great 2018. They posted a loss of 5.7 percent, according to Bloomberg. With a bigger 2019 predicted stock picks from the twelve billionaire hold even greater interest. Check out the enclosed graphics.

     
  • Eleven Dead in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting; Four Officers, Two Others Injured

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    At least eleven guests at a baby naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood are dead after a lone gunman entered the building shouting "All Jews must die" and opened fire.

     
  • View Featurette: Deliver Us From Evil, from Jerry Bruckheimer, a Terrifying Demonic Trip

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In DELIVER US FROM EVIL, executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. 

     
  • SF Arts: Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties is a multimedia exhibition featuring imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange, Clem Albers and Ansel Adams opens January 18, 2019.