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Lawyers spar over jury in Tsarnaev case

Lawyers representing Dzhokar Tsarnaev, on trial for allegedly detonating two bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon and later killing MIT Police officer Sean Collier, called for charges against him to be dismissed on the grounds that grand and trial juries in Massachusetts do not fairly represent the population, violating a constitutional requirement.

According to press reports earlier this month, the lawyers argued that the panel did not adequately represent people over 70, who can opt out of jury service under Massachusetts state law, and African-Americans.

Federal prosecutors argued that Tsarnaev had not indicated that people over 70 are in need of protection from underrepresentation on juries, and that the Eastern Division of Massachusetts, where the jury will come from, is diverse enough for a fair trial.

After a push by the defense to move the trial to Washington, D.C., where the percentage of people who support capital punishment for Tsarnaev is much lower, prosecution and defense proposed to summon 2,000 potential jurors and use questionnaires to jointly narrow down to an appropriate number for a voire dire. Once 70 remain, each side will independently eliminate equal amounts until there are 12 jurors and six alternates.

The judge’s decision had not been made public as of press time.

—Sanjana Srivastava