Login Form

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

  • Pope Francis Calls Followers to 'Emulate Jesus'

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Pope Francis, the charismatic leader of the Catholic Church, preached his first Christmas Mass message from St. Peter’s Basilica calling for followers around the world to “emulate Jesus” and remain steadfast against the power of darkness.

     
  • Screen Australia-Onbass Fellowships To Be Awarded To Australian Filmmakers To Attend AFI Conservatory

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The American Film Institute (AFI) today announces the Screen Australia-Onbass Fellowships, the initial two full-tuition scholarships to attend the AFI Conservatory, which will be awarded for the 2019 and 2020 academic years, for a Master of Fine Arts degree.  

  • Seasons 52 Restaurant Review - A Breadth of Fresh Fare

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Just in time to offset the holiday gluttony and facilitate those perennial New Year health resolutions, Seasons 52 restaurant has opened its doors in San Diego's Westfield UTC.  The concept of this fresh grill and wine bar, now with 25 locations across the U.S. and more on the  horizon, is perfectly suited for the Southern California lifestyle where healthy living reigns supreme.

     
  • MUDBOUND To Open AFI Fest 2017 Presented By Audi On Thursday, November 9

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi announced the Netflix film MUDBOUND will open the AFI Film Festival. Directed by Dee Rees and co-written by Virgil Williams and Rees, the historical period drama features cinematography by AFI Conservatory alumna Rachel Morrison (Class of 2006).  

  • Living A Life That Matters: A Memoir of the Marquis de Lafayette Review – Surprisingly Interesting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Penned by renowned Civil Rights attorney David M. Weitzman, Living A Life That Matters will not jump off the shelf for the causal bookstore window shopper. The title, the image all suggest an intellectual read reserved for professors, scholars, politicians and the like.  

  • ¡Viva Figueroa!: The Academy To Honor Iconic Mexican Cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Writer-director Gregory Nava, actor Gael García Bernal, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and Gabriel Figueroa Flores will celebrate the life and career of the renowned Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa on Tuesday, September 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

     
  • Europe Tightens Border Control Amid Refugee Crisis

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Syrian refugees continue to seek asylum in Western Europe before countries in the EU institute border controls to manage the flow of thousands of migrants. The refugee crisis has presented a challenge to the continent's open border policies that have been in place for decades.

Donate Elite

It's the desire at Haute-Lifestyle.com to keep journalism free. Running a business, however, dictates what is now a common dilemma; a paywall, subscription or donation. Thank you for your donation.