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

  • Xlrator Media Scores “Don Peyote” As AFM Kicks Off; Plans Spring 2014 U.S. Release

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES (November 5, 2013) – On the eve of AFM, XLrator Media has acquired North American distribution rights to the comedy DON PEYOTE, starring Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury), Josh Duhamel (Safe Haven), Jay Baruchel (This is the End) with special appearances by Anne Hathaway (Academy Award® winner, Les Miserables) and  Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3). XLrator Media will release the film theatrically in spring 2014.

     
  • AFI FEST 2014 Presented by Audi Announces a Secret Screening

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, LOS ANGELES, CA, November 7, 2014 – AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi, a program of the American Film Institute, announced today that there will be a secret screening for festival attendees on Tuesday, November 11 at 9:00 p.m.at the Egyptian Theatre.

     
  • HL Miami: Exclusive VIP Grand Reopening Cocktail with Thomas Crocker, Famed Miami Entrepreneur, Thursday, October 15, 2015

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    SunTrust International Center, an architectural landmark in Downtown Miami that is owned and managed by Crocker Partners, will celebrate its grand reopening, following an extensive renovation to create a truly luxurious experience for tenants and clients.

     
  • Apricot Chai – A Natural Aphrodisiac Tea

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    With Valentine's day just around the corner, California Tea House, the premier boutique, organic tea company of Southern California, decided to inspire tea lovers to ignite their passion for tea by turning it into a passionate rendezvous.

     
  • Paris Fashion Week Coverage: Ziad Nakad Fall/Winter 2017/18 Couture Collection – The Snow Crystal Forest

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ziad Nakad, the Lebanese born Haute Couture fashion designer, wowed the invited guests fortunate enough to secure an invitation to the sought-after designer’s Fall and Winter 2017/2018 Paris Haute Couture show titled The Snow Crystal Forest.

     
  • Fashion for a Cause: One Man's Mission To take a Pinch Out of Breast Cancer One Hat At a Time.

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    NEW YORK, NY, September 2013 – Former hip hop producer Jason Pinchoff, who lost his mother to breast cancer, has launched a Fashion Urban Lifestyle Movement, PINCH NYC. Hip hop moguls such as Dana Dane, Ice T and Chubb Rock are publicly supporting the PINCH NYC Movement.

     
  • Anna Kendrick To Perform At 87th Oscars®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Actress and singer Anna Kendrick will make a special appearance at the 87th Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.