Federal prosecutors have agreed to loosen special restrictions that had been placed on Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, so he can have expanded access to his defense team.
In a court filing today, prosecutors said they would add several defense team members to the list of people who are allowed to talk about their communications with Tsarnaev to other members of the team. The added members include two investigators and a paralegal who are employed by the federal defender’s office, as well as a mental health consultant and a mitigation specialist, who will scrutinize Tsarnaev’s life for factors that argue against subjecting him to the death penalty.
All the defense team members would report, and are accountable to, the top four lawyers named in the case.
Also, prosecutors agreed to let the mental health consultant and the mitigation specialist meet with Tsarnaev directly, without lawyers present.
And the prosecutors agreed to let Tsarnaev receive multiple defense team visitors at the same time, including lawyers, pre-cleared paralegals, investigators, the mitigation specialist and the mental health consultant.
The restrictions were loosened after Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued in previous court filings that they interfered with their client’s constitutional rights to defense counsel.
Prosecutors argued that the restrictions, called Special Administrative Measures, were enacted at their request to prohibit Tsarnaev from acting out or sending messages that in any way could influence or promote violence.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in ordering the Bureau of Prisons to enact the measures in August, at the request of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of Massachusetts, said the measures were “reasonably necessary to prevent the inmate from committing, soliciting, or conspiring to commit additional criminal activity.” Tsarnaev is being held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer.
US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. urged the prosecutors at a Nov. 12 hearing to reach a compromise with the defense attorneys, saying that while the measures might have their purpose, he was concerned with any interference with defense preparation.
Tsarnaev, now 20, faces multiple federal charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty for his alleged role in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260.
Holder is expected to decide by the end of January whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev is also accused in state court of murdering MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.