The Legal Questions Around the Boston Bombing

Monday, April 22, 2013

With the arrest of a suspect in the Boston bombing, there are now a host of legal questions emerging. Should he have been immediately read his Miranda rights? Should he be labelled an "enemy combatant"? What kind of trial will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get? Legal journalist Andrew Cohen, contributor to The Atlantic, legal analyst for 60 Minutes, and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, provides context.

The Law and the Boston Arrest: A Reading List


Andrew Cohen

Comments [27]

Careful John, "against the USA" includes many whom you wouldn't intend.

Apr. 22 2013 11:29 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

There is such a thing as international human rights. ALL people are entitled to due process and fair trials, whether they are citizens of this country or any country or no country.

Apr. 22 2013 11:28 AM
Michael Reese from NJ

Rand Paul was only worried about drones striking Militia groups.

Apr. 22 2013 11:28 AM
Amy from Manhattan

This may be more a journalistic than a legal q.: Given the amount of evidence that's publicly known, how much of an obligation does the press/media have to use words like "suspects" & "allegedly"? Many outlets are talking in terms of what the Tsarnaevs "did," not what they're "believed to have done."

Apr. 22 2013 11:27 AM

I find it ironic that the nost jingoistic types are least likely to espouse the tenets of the Constitution.

Apr. 22 2013 11:26 AM
john from office

The minute this "suspect" picked up a gun or a bomb against the USA, he no longer was an american. He belongs in Gitmo, being water boarded until he tell us all he knows. Then he can go on hunger strike with the rest of our guests in Gitmo and be allowed to die.

Then we should do a drone strike on the ACLU.

Apr. 22 2013 11:26 AM
hicoachrich from Murray Hill

I never see your guests complimented, although there have been many worthy of praise for differeing reasons. I would like to compliment Andrew Cohen's acumen, knowledge, command of the matter at hand, and his excellent ability to communicate his informed perspective. He is an excellent source and I hope you have him back at the relevant time. But, please, never have Lindsey Graham.

Apr. 22 2013 11:25 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The irony that supporters of the 2nd Amendment believe that "public safety" is a small price to pay, yet many of them are saying that we should potentially give up our 5th and 6th amendment rights as citizens with this so-called "public safety" exception?

Apr. 22 2013 11:24 AM
John A

I am very thankful that this person is alive for questioning, please do not brutalize him.
The boys/men seemed to by very connected on the internet, that will produce a large net of watchpoints.

Apr. 22 2013 11:20 AM
Sheldon from Brooklkyn

@Zach, I agree.

Apr. 22 2013 11:17 AM
Christine from Westchester

Well Dan, I can't tell you what wasn't searched. It seems to me they spent all their time in Watertown vs. other parts of Boston so who knows. I'm not there.

I'd say let the authoritites decide when to read him Miranda rights. I don't think we should NOT read him his rights. I;m suggesting that it's easy to armchair quarterback here.

Apr. 22 2013 11:16 AM

As NPR reported today, civil courts have convicted 460+ of terrorism charges, while military tribunals only convicted 6.

Apr. 22 2013 11:16 AM

Do all the recent gun shootings also count as terror?

Apr. 22 2013 11:16 AM
Bob Brady

As a combatent, all he has to give is name, rank, serial # & date of birth. This is the international law version of Miranda.

If he is to be tried by a military commission, the commission has the same evidence problem as the courts. He cannot be forced to convict himself.

Apr. 22 2013 11:15 AM
zack from NJ

@Sheldon from Brooklyn-

Why should we differentiate? In America, these rights are supposed to be inalienable. We are supposed to show the world that we don't sink to the level of the others. We stand for the best of humanity... or at least we were supposed to

Apr. 22 2013 11:14 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL.... this is when all of the LEFTIES find it convenient to come back and blather about the sanctity of our constitution and our bill of rights.

(Until the next grab for power by Barry Obama … then the constitution again becomes outdated and naive.)

Apr. 22 2013 11:14 AM
John A

Anyway, add a billion and a dozen drones to the domestic military budget after this. Observed and predicted, but not acceptable to me.

Apr. 22 2013 11:13 AM

Hey Lindsey, here's a hint:
1. American citizen,
2. arrested on American soil,
3. nothing linking him to al Qaeda.

"Enemy combatant"? I don't think so.

Apr. 22 2013 11:12 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Do you think that Tsarnaev was actually a agent for some foreign gov't or terrorist group? I don't.

Apr. 22 2013 11:11 AM

It will be interesting to see how frivolous "extraordinary circumstances" become in the future.

Apr. 22 2013 11:10 AM

Christine from Westchester: "I think the point that there was iminent danger of other bombs etc. (making him an enemy combatant) has merit."

So, what exactly WASN'T searched by the armies of police, state troopers, and FBI agents (not to mention all the public)??
There's no danger anymore.
Therefore, no merit.

Apr. 22 2013 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

There is one thing to deny suspect #2 his miranda rights, as disturbing as it is. However, as a US citizen, he is entitled to the FULL protection of the US constitution. It's a shame that a few, mostly republican senators, who ostensibly rail against the dangerous "over-reach" of the federal government in their day job, think other-wise.

Suspect #1, who is not a US citizen, if he had been captured alive, would NOT have been entitled to any such protection. However, in days past - he would have faced a civilian trial and would have been most likely convicted. It's a shame that 9/11 has made us lose faith in our own justice system.

Apr. 22 2013 11:06 AM
francyne pelchar from Pelham Bay Park

he tried to kill himself because he knew he was close to being caught. He's 19 and facing a lifetime in prison, a good-looking young man who will soon be some hardened con's "chicken". Ooboy, won't that be tasty retribution.

Apr. 22 2013 11:05 AM
Joe from nearby

There are boatloads of evidence against this kid already- enough to convict him- so why do they insist on getting a 'confession' when they don't need it? (Remember- he told the SUV driver he did it, so he already 'confessed.')

This being so, we have to ask what hidden agenda they're pushing here.

Apr. 22 2013 11:04 AM
Christine from Westchester

I can imagine there are some reasons for not reading him his rights, one of which is he was not conscious so he could not listen to them being read. I think the point that there was iminent danger of other bombs etc. (making him an enemy combatant) has merit. Could the have wanted to find out more quickly? Yes, then they can't use what they hear agaisnt him but perhaps they didn't need that information for conviction (enought other evidence already available)?

Apr. 22 2013 10:44 AM
Lenore from Manhattan

I am looking forward to this being a decent discussion--including the fellow at the Brennan Center is encouraging, lots better than the ridiculous interview with John Ashcroft--John Ashcroft!!--on Weekend Edition Sunday.

This should be treated as a crime, not a war crime or combattant situation.

Apr. 22 2013 10:29 AM
zack from NJ

Why should we deny him his rights? What is the risk we lose our moral compass? What good is the death penalty for someone who likely tried to kill himself?

Apr. 22 2013 09:51 AM

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