Brief filed: 01/02/2019
United States v. Tsarnaev
1st Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 16-6001
On appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
No facts are too heinous, no conduct too appalling, and no defendant too unsympathetic to rule out a life verdict from a properly empaneled American trial jury presented with compelling mitigation. Even a defendant convicted of the worst crimes is constitutionally entitled to present broad mitigation during the penalty phase of a capital trial and a jury cannot impose the death penalty unless it unanimously finds that the mitigation is outweighed by aggravating factors. The examples discussed in this brief illustrate that properly selected and instructed juries will reach life verdicts in many of the most aggravated capital prosecutions. Juries have rejected the death penalty for acts of terrorism. Courts routinely vacate capital sentences when errors undermine confidence in the decision to impose death.
Michael J. Iacopino, Brennan Lenehan Iacopino & Hickey, Manchester, NH; Benjamin Silverman, Law office of Benjamin Silverman PLLC, New York, NY; David A Ruhnke, Ruhnke & Barrett, Montclair, NJ; Megan Wall-Wolff, Wall-Wolff LLC, New York, NY.