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  • Boston bombing trial: Should juror have known about victim’s family’s wishes?

    Yahoo! - 08/25/2015

    The defense attempted to submit the Richard family’s view as part of the case, but the evidence was excluded by the judge because of “endless loop” that may have resulted, says Daniel Medwed, a professor at the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston.

    “Especially in death penalty cases with a lot of victims, you might have the defense and prosecution calling up people in a tit-for-tat scenario,” Professor Medwed says.

    The Richard family was allowed to address the court as part of their victim impact statement, which allows victims to explain to the jury how the crimes of the accused affected them. What is not admissible are victim’s views on the appropriateness of the death penalty, because it delves too far into the realm of opinion, instead of fact.

    “The reason the law does not allow it is that it distracts the jury from their quest. They’re the ones who have heard all the evidence and are entrusted with the heavy responsibility in a death penalty case,” Medwed says. “The idea is that either way you slice it you don’t want jurors voting for or against death out of sympathy of victim’s views and feel like they are rejecting victims if they choose the alternative, the other path.”

    Allowing victim’s opinions on sentencing would lead to additional procedural issues like which side would call them up to testify, Medwed adds.

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