Thoughts On The Tsarnaev Complaint

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92 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    So, inviting wild speculation here, but is the DOJ going to try and use this as a test case for their very broad public safety exception interpretation? From the sounds of it, they have a relatively easy case without needing a confession or statement from the defendant, so I'm not sure why they'd use this case unless they want a high-profile and emotionally charged platform on which to raise the issue.

  2. asper84 says:

    Just wondered if it's usual to refer to suspects as things like "Bomber One" and "Bomber Two" in a complaint? – I mean when referring to a specific person (e.g. identified by CCTV) rather than an "idea".

    Seems a bit strange to me (innocent until proven guilty etc.) but I have no idea if this is a usual/accepted terminology.

  3. Conster says:

    Wait, grenades count as WMDs?
    Also, I'm probably reading this wrong, but couldn't 18 U.S.C. 2332a theoretically be used against people that go dynamite fishing in a national park (a stick of dynamite being similar to an explosive bomb, and the blast potentially causing damage to the park's ecosystem and therefore the park itself, which is "used" by a government agency, falling under clause 3: "(3) against any property that is owned, leased or used by the United States or by any department or agency of the United States, whether the property is within or outside of the United States")?

  4. MattS says:

    "Magistrate Judges are not Article III judges appointed by the President and approved by the Senate;"

    Minor nit pic, but the appointments clause of the constitution would actually allow Congress to give the President the power to appoint Art III judges without confirmation or to give the appointment power to someone other than the President.

    "but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments"

    My personal thought on this matter subject to lessening the confirmation fights in the Senate over the appointment of Circuit and District court judges would be to give the appointment power for Art III judges to SCOTUS.

  5. Ken White says:

    @Conster: that's a ridiculous scenario, you'd think — but yes.

    @asper84: bear in mind this isn't a document ever shown to the jury, so the potential prejudice of such terms isn't really a factor. It is a bit of question-begging, though.

    Quick story along that line: when I was a rookie fed, my friend — another rookie — was prosecuting a bank robbery. The guys who went into the bank had pled out; my friend was trying the wheelman, who denied knowing what was going on. Friend was examining a witness. "Witness, can you put an R where you saw the defendant in the car outside the bank," friend asks. The judge looks confused — car doesn't start with R, and the defendant's name doesn't start with R. "What's R for, counsel?" asks the judge. Friend, innocently, to judge: "ROBBER." Courtroom erupts in laughter.

  6. naught_for_naught says:

    Thanks for the coverage, Ken. Keeping informed in the aftermath of the Boston bombing is like trying to get a drink from a sewage pipe. There is just too much shit in the stream.

  7. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    I'm waiting to see how many hundreds of charges Massachusetts will bring against this guy. Three murders by the bombs, felony murder of his brothers, murder of the police officer, followed by a couple hundred attempted murders, malicious wounding, aggravated assault, maiming, armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and whatever else the prosecutors can dig up out of the statutes.

    This guy will never breathe air outside of a cage.

    –CS

  8. urbantravels says:

    Has the autopsy of Tamerlan established whether he died as a result of police gunshots, or as a result of Dzhokhar driving over him?

  9. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Then again, perhaps in 25 or 30 years he will find himself on the faculty of some university somewhere.

  10. Wondering says:

    Why does the statute on property destruction have to specify "including any public safety officer" when it's already said "any person."

    I mean, I'm sure there's jokes to be made about that, but what's the legal reason for needing that extra clarification?

  11. MattS says:

    Cloudesley Shovell,

    Leave off the armed robbery. From what I have read, the Tsarnaevs weren't involved, they just had the bad luck to carjack a car outside an armed robbery in progress.

    "Then again, perhaps in 25 or 30 years he will find himself on the faculty of some university somewhere."

    Not all cages are made of stone walls and iron bars.

  12. Votre says:

    I think, in the end, all the legal and constitutional niceties will go by the wayside with this case.

    You have a dead 8-year old kid and a Chinese national.

    There is no way in a million years that the federal government is going to allow the surviving Tsarnaev brother to leave that courtroom any way other than under a federal sentence of death.

    There's too much unresolved public frustration over the Sandy Hook CT incident – and far too much realpolitik in play for it to conclude any other way.

  13. MattS says:

    "There is no way in a million years that the federal government is going to allow the surviving Tsarnaev brother to leave that courtroom any way other than under a federal sentence of death."

    Extradite him to China so they can try him for the death of the Chinese national?

  14. nlp says:

    MattS, I think the armed robbery will stand. When they carjacked the car they made the driver go to an ATM and make a cash withdrawal. Considering everything else that happened, that guy must think he's the luckiest person in the country.

  15. MattS says:

    nlp,

    I forgot about that. I was thinking of the early claims that they robbed the 7-11 that the car they jacked was sitting in front of. Turned out latter that the robbery of the 7-11 was unrelated.

    Ken,

    Please respond to my first comment.

  16. Chris says:

    Ken,
    Can you explain the miranda exemption?

    I mean, I intuitively know I have the right to council and the right not to talk to cops at anytime.

    So the pukes claim of "public safety" exemption, does't make his rights any less absolute, correct?

  17. ChrisTS says:

    Why would they go to felony murder for the brother if, as reported, he drove over him?

    Also, do Federal rules allow FM liability for co-felons?

  18. Scott says:

    I was a bit surprised the affadavit doesn't bother to describe what exact property was damaged that is used for interstate commerce… that seems like a key requirement of the second charge. Or is that such a low bar nowadays they don't even bother?

  19. MattS says:

    ChrisTS,

    My understanding (IANAL) is that if you commit a felony and a bystander at the location of the felony has a heart attack or otherwise dies of natural causes during the felony they can hit you with felony murder. And yes, the death of an accomplice would be covered.

  20. Helena says:

    How does the decision to charge him affect the decision not to remind of his right to remain silent and his right to legal representation?

  21. Russ says:

    So a couple guys set off two black powder bombs on a crowded street and a firm accidently sets off 200 Tons of explosives across from a school. Guess who used the WMD?

  22. Jon says:

    nlp/MattS: Wouldn't the carjacking itself also count as armed robbery?

  23. Ken White says:

    MattS:

    Ken,

    Please respond to my first comment.

    MattS:

    You posted your first comment at 1:26 PST.

    By 2:31 PST, as part of a flurry of five comments, you were asking me to respond.

    Perhaps you should reconsider your sense of entitlement, and your manners.

  24. Bob Brown says:

    …"as an American, I live in confidence that the government would never exaggerate the existence of WMDs."

    Um, your tongue looks silly way over there. I know a surgeon who could help you.

  25. MattS says:

    Ken,

    I don't see the issue with my manners, I did say please.

    As to any sense of entitlement, it's not like I set a deadline or something. :-)

    I will however admit that patience is not my strongest virtue.

  26. MattS says:

    Jon,

    When there is a specific statute to cover carjacking, I don't think they could get away with charging carjacking AND armed robbery predicated on the carjacking.

  27. Ken White says:

    @Chris: If you look at the posts from this weekend, you'll see a post with links to many Miranda discussions.

  28. ULTRAGOTHA says:

    MattS -

    Poking the bear in his own den might be a strategy you want to rethink.

  29. MattS says:

    Ken,

    Seriously, while it is off topic, I am genuinely interested in what you think of my comments on the appointment of art III judges.

  30. nlp says:

    Wondering, I'm not positive about the Federal statute, but in Massachusetts and a number of other states there is a higher penalty for killing a police officer, and sometimes for killing any first responder.

  31. Patrick says:

    And I'd like it, Ken, if you'd respond to my question from several months ago about whether you'd prefer to be burned alive or frozen in a block of ice?

    NOW. I'VE BEEN PATIENT.

  32. AK says:

    The Boston Marathon absolutely impacts interstate commerce; one could dispute how the law got that way, but that's pretty clearly the law.

    So let's say the feds didn't have power over everything and everyone by abusing the interstate commerce clause. Would the feds still have a federal case due to the killing of a Chinese national?

  33. Simon says:

    (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,

    Launching a large model rocket is a crime punishable with the death penalty?

  34. MattS says:

    Simon,

    If you are launching it at people, yes.

  35. TomB says:

    "What's R for, counsel?" asks the judge. Friend, innocently, to judge: "ROBBER." Courtroom erupts in laughter.

    For God's sake tell me that at least one smartass had the balls to yell out "Wewease the wobber!"

  36. Norahc says:

    Ken,

    Given that law enforcement chose not to read him his Miranda Warning under the "public safety exception", and that they are apparently questioning him in the hospital while he is under the influence of medications do you think that they will try to use his statements against him in some way?

  37. MattS says:

    ULTRAGOTHA,

    It's a slow day, I need something exciting to do.

  38. Josh C says:

    Some say that Ken would snark with fire,
    Some say crack with ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of his ire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if he had to banter twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for correction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    (Also: a literal reading suggests that "Malicious Destruction of Property" includes all private property. Is it sufficient that he was malicious, and that he destroyed his own private property (e.g. the backpack)?)

  39. Shawn Young says:

    Suppose as per the edit there are plea negotiations, and suppose a plea bargain for less than the death penalty is struck. How high up the political food chain does a deal with such a high-profile defendant go to get signed off? Can POTUS get involved, or is he necessarily excluded (at least de jure)? The AG? Etc.?

    If there was another case where some anonymous drug dealer who executed, say, six people, would the plea process on the Government's side be the same out of the spotlight?

  40. Simon says:

    @Matt:

    I launch a model rocket. Due to faulty build and/or launch, it hits a brick wall. Obviously damage to the brick wall is unlikely to exceed the damage of paint on the wall. This is also use of a WMD carrying the death penalty?

  41. OngChotwI says:

    A large rocket motor (Estes E12-8) is 2.24oz with 1.3oz of fuel. If you launch more than a 3 stage rocket with these – you've got WMD material. (I'd assume there's larger motors out there..) If they'd pointed this out during the IRAQ squirmish, we wouldn't have made so much fun of the lack of WMDs..

  42. nlp says:

    Josh C,
    In regard to the property damage, the bombs blew out the windows and damaged the exteriors of several small businesses along that part of the street. That will probably qualify for the charge. And one of the businesses, Lenscrafters, is a nationwide corporation.

  43. MattS says:

    Simon,

    "I launch a model rocket. Due to faulty build and/or launch, it hits a brick wall. Obviously damage to the brick wall is unlikely to exceed the damage of paint on the wall. This is also use of a WMD carrying the death penalty?"

    Given the way most federal statues in general and this one in particular seem to be written, hope and pray that you haven't pissed off any federal prosecutors recently.

  44. ChrisTS says:

    @MattS:

    Yes, FM can attach to almost any death that occurs during a felony or in the escape. But, some jurisdictions do not permit FM for the death of a co-felon. Further, in this case, I would think he is liable for running over his brother – perhaps intending to kill the police officers – without recourse to FM, which is a bit of a risk.

  45. gramps says:

    Matt: It deoends how the state has structured its law… In CA there are many wheelmen doing life or life-without because their "passenger" killed someone, or someone died, during the robbery. Real poetic justice is meted out when the death is the robber…. yes. Robber sticks up the liquor store, clerk comes up with Colt instead of cash. Dead robber and wheelman waiting outside goes down for murder under felony murder rule. Life is tough, wear a cup.

    I defer to Ken for the federal rule on this.

  46. Josh C says:

    @nlp,

    First, a sincere thanks for the answer. Unfortunately, I was actually curious about the more trivial case. Are the Mythbusters (for example) guilty of WMD use every time they explode one of their creations? Was their errant cannonball a while back actually terrorism? As written, it looks like any explosive device which destroys itself would quslify as a WMD. Is there something I'm missing (I hope!)?

  47. Steven says:

    Anyone know how Tsarnaev got a lawyer?

    More generally, could a court have appointed one for him if he wasn't conscious, could he have had a standing lawyer of his own who would automatically represent him on any charges brought against him, or would he have to hire one or accept a public defender after he gained consciousness?

  48. Hasdrubal says:

    Steven: The bottom of page 5 of the transcript, the judge says "I have provisionally appointed the federal defender, Mr. Fick, to represent you in this matter."

    The judge appointed a public defender.

  49. Delvan Neville says:

    @Wondering: I believe its there for the rest of the sentence to then specify that it applies to public safety officers who die as a result of proximate consequences, which I take to mean things like a fireman dying while fighting a fire that broke out from a bombing or the like. I could imagine someone attempting to argue that firemen are supposed to fight fires, that the job carries the risk of dying when you go into a burning building all the time, and that they think it that death shouldn't be tried the same as a resident dying while inside the building because they couldn't get out.

  50. jimmythefly says:

    Folks, I believe you are skimming to quickly over the first part of the whole WMD law. There's a "without lawful authority" qualifier right in the first sentence.

    The trickiness seems to be that WMD is both a noun and an adjective. To be guilty you really have to employ a weapon in a certain method. But not just any weapon, only those that meet the threshhold/definition.

    Note the words "destructive device". At first blush, model rockets don't count -they may cause injuries, but they're really not "destructive" devices" in the way a grenade is.

    See the full text of section 921:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921

    In part it says

    "The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing, safety, or similar device; surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to the provisions of section 4684 (2), 4685, or 4686 of title 10; or any other device which the Attorney General finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an antique, or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting, recreational or cultural purposes."

    @Josh C, basically, Mythbusters aren't using WMDs, because they aren't using them in a certain manner, regardless of the physical makeup of the device itself.

  51. simon says:

    @OngChotwI

    An E12 rocket motor isn't a large motor. It's a small to mid-range motor. I did some searching on how large a motor would have to be in order to contain 4oz or propellant. It is larger than one might expect, because anything later than E30 uses a different propellant which is lighter for the same impulse. One has to go up to an H60 in order to meet the weight requirement. This is still in model rocket territory — just a very large model rocket.

  52. TheGeek says:

    Way off topic but yes @OngChotwI there are bigger model rockets. I've seen sized up to an O. Now to put that in perspective for every letter you go up you double the thrust of the motor. So a E normally has between 20-40Ns of thrust, so a O has 20,480-40960Ns. Any thing above a G however is regulated and require special certification.

  53. James Pollock says:

    "Are the Mythbusters (for example) guilty of WMD use every time they explode one of their creations?"
    If you pay attention, they usually have someone else handling both the rigging and detonation of the big booms… somebody with specific expertise, and I'm guessing a federal license of some kind.
    The cannon overshot incident wasn't malicious, and therefore not terrorism, even if it did damage a building… just like the big boom in Texas last week (unless there have been developments I'm not aware of.)

  54. whheydt says:

    Re: Rob Brown…

    In my household, we'd describe that as "if his tongue were any farther into his cheek, it'd come wiggling out his ear."

    On more general discussion… Should one be surprised if, for running over his brother, he gets charged with hit-and-run and/or vehicular manslaughter? (Of course, the penalties for either of those are likely to be lost in the noise from the rest of the potential penalties…)

  55. David says:

    I have a problem seeing how a cigarette lighter would not count as a weapon of mass destruction given those definitions. It is filled with incendiary gas.

  56. Anony Mouse says:

    Eh. That definition of WMD isn't shocking or new, really. And it fits perfectly with what WMD stands for: Weapon of Mass Destruction. Strip away all the emotional connotations and a bomb or grenade are certainly weapons of mass destruction. That's rather the point of grenades and bombs and explosives: to cause mass destruction.

    The problem is, everyone thinks WMD is just another way of saying NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical).

  57. Ted K. says:

    Re : "armed robbery"

    Something to keep in mind about these incidents – charges can overlap. So carjacking, a form of grand theft auto, can also be referred to as armed robbery. And detonating an IED near an occupied building may be chargeable as arson.

    I think that keeping the charge sheet short will demonstrate a higher level of skill on the part of the prosecution. It's all too easy to come up with a laundry list of charges in these situations.

  58. scav says:

    @Simon – from reading just the parts of the statute that Ken helpfully provided, it appears that to get you the death penalty your model rocket would actually have to kill someone, and jury would have to be persuaded that you "used [it] against" them. So yeah, don't do that.

  59. Nobody says:

    The device was clearly constructed as an anti-personnel weapon due to the added shrapnel I've seen reported. While there are many things I would not call a WMD–LiteBrites, for example, in spite of the fact that LiteBrites have terrorized Boston on at least one occasion–I have to think this device should qualify given that it was intended to hurt or kill a large group of random, innocent people.

    The damnable thing about weapons like these are that they are easy to create from common household items and that it only requires one crazy idiot to ruin a lot of lives.

  60. bst says:

    What about the MIT Campus Police officer who was shot and killed? Would that not be part of the complaint because it is a state, not federal, crime; or because there is not sufficient evidence yet linking the murder to the brothers; or to leave something to charge later if it is needed; or else what? It seems like a pretty big crime to leave out of the complaint unless there is a good reason to leave it out.

  61. OngChotwI says:

    Well.. that clears up a little about how Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are lumped in with long range biological/chemical/nuclear weapons. i.e. news services that describe Watertown as a place where the roads are cleared following a bombing attack.
    Ran across these two sites to help pronounce the names, but notice Dzhokhar was supposedly named after Dzhokhar Dudayev and they pronounced the first name differently on the 2nd site:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2013/04/pronounce_boston_bomb_names_listen_to_recording_of_names_of_dzhokhar_tsarnaev.html
    http://names.voa.gov/browse-oneregion.php?region=Chechnya

  62. Jeff says:

    @JoshC

    "Is there something I'm missing (I hope!)?"

    Sort of, yes. There's an intent requirement. Different crimes have different intent requirements. Two broad categories are "specific intent" and "general intent".

    With the caveat that I've never actually asserted or defended against a charge in this section so I can't speak from experience, I expect that the requirement that the WMD be "use[d] … against any person or property" would require specific intent. That is, you intended that the WMD would be used against a person or property covered by the statute.

    Accidentally sending a cannon ball rolling through a subdivision wouldn't qualify. However, if they aimed there, all bets are off.
    Jeff

  63. Basil Forthrightly says:

    Simon, David, et al

    Ken didn't quote the full thing, though of course he provided the link. If you go read the relevant section, there is also this:

    The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device, although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing, safety, or similar device; surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to the provisions of section 4684 (2), 4685, or 4686 of title 10; or any other device which the Attorney General finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an antique, or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting, recreational or cultural purposes.

    Buried in that is the word "designed" which is about intent, which is why fertilizer plants aren't WMDs even when they explode like bombs.

  64. Scott says:

    @MattS,

    Re your first comment, Article III judges are not "inferior Officers." See Morrison v. Olson (1988) (listing certain factors as hallmarks of "inferior Officer" status, such as removability by a higher executive branch official other than the President, and limitations on the officer's duties, jurisdiction, and tenure); see also In Edmond v. United States (1997) (an inferior officers' work is directed and supervised at some level by persons appointed by Presidential nomination with the advice and consent of the Senate).

  65. Josh C says:

    @Jeff,

    Thank you for the answer, and for giving me words to look for.
    I'll go get less ignorant now.

  66. Josh C says:

    @everyone else: thank you also. I posted the previous too soon, and couldn't edit.

  67. Jay says:

    @MattS Article III judges are not "inferior officers" whose appointment can be delegate to the President or other officers without the Senate. There is a whole body of caselaw about what the term means.

  68. Ron says:

    I assume the state of Mass. is also going to charge him with at least 4 counts of murder? (the 3 bombing victims and the MIT cop). Just incase for some reason be beats the federal rap?

  69. MattS says:

    Scott,

    I would have to read your first cite, but as to In Edmond v. United States, I would contend that the work of the art III judges is supervised by SCOTUS and the SCOTUS justices are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of Congress so your second cite doesn't seem to be much of an obstacle.

  70. orvis barfley says:

    i have a concern about people using the word bomber.  is bomber a masculine word?  i mean, like actor and waiter?  if so, i take umbrage at the assumption that a bomb person is necessarily male and must insist on the use of abominations like bomb person or bomb individual in the future.

    bomb hominid would be ok and has a nice ring to it.

  71. jimmythefly says:

    Pretty sure it's unisex.

    Like thrower or hotstepper.

    /I'm the lyrical gangster,
    /excuse me mister officer,
    /still love you like that.

  72. corporal lint says:

    i have a concern about people using the word bomber. is bomber a masculine word?

    Orvis, I know that you're just being obnoxious and that this isn't a serious question. But to answer anyway, bomber is not gendered. Words in English that are gendered are generally either loanwords that entered the language in a gendered form, usually from French (e.g., actor/actress), or they are words that have a specifically gendered referent (e.g., her or him). Bomb is first attested in English in the late 16th century; bomber was coined around 1910. So, as a thoroughly English word, is without gender. You don't have to worry your precious little head about it.

  73. perlhaqr says:

    Dammit. Can't you people keep everything in one place?

    Hah! As if. They can't even use one fucking system.

    I was trying to read the bills and amendments and suchlike and so forth surrounding the recent "gun control legislation" brouhaha (Reading bills? To be informed? What am I, some kinda mad man?) and half the references were to "we're going to change 18 USC 922 (r)" and half of them were of the form "modify Section 101 (a) (5) of the 2007 Dwarfism Protection Act" without actually pointing to the place in the law where the 2007 act ended up.

    Very frustrating.

  74. ChrisTS says:

    @Orvis:

    Is 'boor' a masculine word?

  75. MattS says:

    ChrisTS

    'Boor' probably derives from 'boar' which is a male pig, so yes, it's a masculine word.

  76. Austin says:

    It is sometimes possible to trade the 10 seconds asking a question or making a guess for 10 seconds of finding the answer. Not for matters of law, legal issues, opinion, discussion, or simply identifying your favorite sandwich, of course; but for things like asking if "bomber" is gender-specific or simply guessing at the root of boor, it seems an appropriate use of time. I find Wiktionary to be helpful, but just plain Google works.
    This blawg has one of the better commenter communities I've come across. The authors themselves contribute regularly despite their time constraints and the commenters often provide either experience, insight, or some combination of the two. It's a great place for folks to get access to different experiences, opinions, personalities, and analyses.

  77. MattS says:

    Austin,

    Yes, but the real origin of boor isn't funny.

  78. orvis barfley says:

    austin, my question was tongue-in-cheek.  if this is an inappropriate place to do such (which certainly doesn't appear to be the case) i will desist.  my guess is that my idea of amusement runs counter to the lay of the land here and that i should mosey, so to speak.

    say so, community, and it will be done.

  79. orvis barfley says:

    actually, there's enough said here that i'm going to declare it has been said.  this is a great place and lots of folks here have my undying admiration.

    sayonara, buffalo bob.

  80. AlphaCentauri says:

    I knew you were joking, Orvis.

  81. Allen says:

    The laws associated with the usage of energetic materials for criminal purposes are founded on past cases. It really only takes a small amount of an energetic material to cause great damage.

    Though the term energetic material might sound vague, it's not. That's why the intent term is so important. The Brothers Karamazov probably bought all their materials from publicly available sources, but their intent was deadly.

  82. Jack says:

    There is a distinction between recognizing an attempt at facetiousness (e.g. the "bomb person" comment) and finding said attempt amusing.

    It would appear, indeed, that rather more commenters here recognized the attempt in question than found it amusing. One commenter might have mistaken the attempt at facetiousness for an attempt at serious argument. There appears, however, to be no overlap between the set of commenters who understood the comment's intent and the set of commenters who found its intent amusing.

    In simpler terms: We knew orvis barfley was "joking" but that doesn't mean anyone thought the "joke" was funny.

  83. Jon Roland says:

    The only constitutional authority I find for charging Dzhokar Tsarnaev with a federal offense is for treason, since he is a U.S. citizen, and the act was arguably "making war". Since the offense was committed on state territory, not exclusively federal territory, there is no subjectam jurisdiction for a federal charge of murder or use of "weapons of mass destruction". 18 USC § 2332a is unconstitutional. Some might wish there were constitutional authority for such charges, but it is not in the Constitution as originally understood. All the court precedents extending the Commerce Clause to things that have a substantial effect on commerce are ridiculously wrong.

    The absurdity of making it a crime to possess "destructive devices" is brought out by the "finding" that they include several military-style semi-automatic 12-gauge shotguns.

    Only the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has criminal jurisdiction in this case for charges other than federal treason.

  84. Delvan Neville says:

    @Allen: Totally agree, its all about what that energy is going to be used for and how rapidly it is converted from its potential to kinetic and/or heat. Jelly donut and a grenade have about the same chemical potential energy (221 food Calories ~ 985 kJ, 200 grams of TNT ~ 800kJ). Mmmm…jelly grenades…

  85. Arlight says:

    To quote a story on Fox News about how the kid shut up with they read him his rights, "The public safety exception to Miranda lasts only 48 hours." I'm just curious about Ken's take on that statement since my reading above was that it became a slippery slope as time progressed but didn't have a set time limit.

  86. Ted K. says:

    @Delvan N. – Re : "jelly grenades"
    Gelignite (Wikipedia article), a type of explosive, is sometimes referred to as "jelly".

    Also from Wikipedia – Grenade

  87. Delvan says:

    Mmm, thems some yummy jelly donuts Ted

  88. annette chapel says:

    all you guys want to convict this 19 year old guy..think about how influenced you were at 19 i know i was, if his only family here was his brother of course he was going to do what he said me personally i hope he isn't convicted #freedzhokhartsarneav i think he is innocent and who is to say that tamerlan is really dead

  89. Delvan says:

    I hope he is convincted if he is guilty. Whether or not he was conspiring with family or not does not absolve him of his responsibilities. We'd have some serious issues if being 19 meant you could murder people and not be facing any repercussions.

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