by Cheryl Dean
In late January, 2016, a motion was filed by the defense team of Dzhokhar (“Jahar”) Tsarnaev, asking for changes to his defense representation. It was approved that Judy Clarke, David Bruck and the rest of the team exit the case. Thank God they will no longer be representing Dzhokhar.
(But Judy has to stick around for the transition as “there are not a lot of learned counsel who are qualified to handle a federal death penalty case.”)
Two new lawyers have been mentioned as likely replacements. They are, Ms. Gail Johnson and Mr. David Patton who is Executor Director of the Federal Defenders office in New York, at the trial level.
I wrote to both Mr Patton and Ms Johnson, indicating that I would welcome news of their appointment. It would be a breath of fresh air.
Gail Johnson seems to be a very compassionate, dedicated and caring person who treats her clients as human beings. She personally wrote a letter to the Governor of Colorado asking for clemency, on behalf of a client on death row. She stated:
“Nathan Dunlap is my client and has become my friend. The fact that the jury who sentenced Nathan to death was not informed of his mental illness, haunts me to this day. I would be personally devastated if my friend Nathan Dunlap were executed by the state of Colorado”.
That is exactly what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev needs. Someone who is decent, honest, and who will fight passionately for him, for his family. Luckily Ms Johnson works in Boulder, Colorado, so will be close enough to the prison (known as ADX) to be able to visit Dzhokhar often. She can monitor his treatment in the worse prison in the United States and the 10th worst prison in the entire world.
As for Attorney David Patton, the most encouraging thing I have found out about him is that he is dismayed by the current “prosecutor-driven justice system.” This is really no justice system at all.
He published an article in the Yale Law Journal in April 2013, saying:
“I attempt to demonstrate how we have moved away from an adversarial process toward an inquisitorial one and how that movement has affected the right to counsel. I discuss the right to counsel broadly and functionally, not just as the right to a warm body with a law degree, but as the right to do what we expect good defense lawyers to do: vigorously challenge the government’s view of the facts and law”.
“The harsh politics of crime and punishment have long acted as a one-way ratchet toward severity and prosecutorial control”.
“Whatever the reasons for our current state of affairs, there is one feature of the federal system about which nearly all observers agree, power has shifted from judges and juries to prosecutors”.
We certainly saw that in the prosecution and trial of Dzhokhar!
Many members of the public are coming to their own conclusions that this particular case is about setting a precedent or precedents. I believe this. There has never been a case where 9,000 law enforcement persons were called in to hunt and capture one frightened, wounded teenager.
No case before called for martial law or locking down a major city. No case ever has had anywhere near 1,300 sealed motions and over 1,700 motions so far. And, may I ask, how many people have ever been convicted of killing a police officer based on a grainy distant video, identifying no one?
There is not a single police video of the events in Watertown. Isn’t that precedent setting? It is also obvious that law enforcement tried hard to murder Dzhokhar at the boat. And the defendant’s lawyers stunningly failed to defend their client, using the phrase “it was him” in their opening statements.
The new team will have to study an enormous number of files in this case. Within them there lies a treasure trove of legitimate legal arguments to fight this case.
We who support Dzhokhar fully expect that he will be granted a new trial, if not set free, based on prosecutorial misconduct. Judge O’Toole’s private chat with the jurors, and his obvious allegiance to the prosecution, are all also calling for redress.
Good people from all over the world will be watching the new attorneys. If you are chosen, Gail Johnson and David Patton, please don’t disappoint us, Instead of saying “it was him”, say “it was not him” — as that would be the truth.
If anyone has information about this case that they would like to see handed over to appeals lawyers, why not fly it off to GumshoeNews.com?
Cheryl Dean is the author of many articles about the Tsarnaev case. Pop her name into the search engine at GumshoeNew.com and they will come to light.