Faculty Notes

Prof. Eric M. Freedman Comments in New York Times Story on Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

Eric M. Freedman, Siggi B. Wilzig Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Rights

Boston Is Eager to Begin Marathon Bombing Trial, and to End It
By Katharine Q. Seelye
The New York Times
Jan. 1, 2015


Even if the jury imposes the death penalty, the appeals process can go on for years. Of the nearly 500 federal death penalty defendants since 1988, only three have been executed.

Defense lawyers not affiliated with the case say that a plea deal for a life sentence could yield the same outcome as a trial, without the time and expense. Moreover, they say, it would spare everyone from reliving traumatic events, and the defendant could not appeal, meaning he would not keep cropping up in the news.

“It makes all kinds of sense that they avoid a trial, and not just because of the very high probability that he will be found guilty,” Eric M. Freedman, a death penalty specialist at Hofstra University Law School. “The families get to say their piece. And he does not get to become a martyr.”

But [Michael] Kendall, the former prosecutor [in Boston], predicted the government would not agree to a plea.

“Giving up the death penalty in this case would be a very charged political issue because of the horrific impact on the victims and the community,” he said. “There would be a lot of criticism. From a prosecutor’s perspective, the safer course is to seek the death penalty.”

Samantha Storey contributed reporting from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on January 2, 2015, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Boston Is Eager to Begin Marathon Bomb Trial, and to End It.

Read the full article.