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Administrative restrictions on Tsarnaev loosened

Defense lawyers want more access

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 Tuesday, prosecutors said they will add several defense team members to the list of people who are allowed to talk about their communications with Tsarnaev to third parties, as long as it is in preparation of their defense. 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, precleared paralegals, investigators, the mitigation specialist, and the mental health consultant.

The restrictions were loosened after Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued in previous court filings that the restrictions interfered with their client’s constitional rights to defense counsel.

Prosecutors argued that the restrictions, called special administrative measures, were imposed at their request to prohibit Tsarnaev from acting out or sending messages that could in any way influence or promote violence.

In ordering the Bureau of Prisons to impose the measures in August, at the request of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of Massachusetts, Attorney General Eric Holder 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 about any interference with defense preparation.

Tsarnaev, now 20, faces multiple US 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 killing MIT police Officer Sean Collier.

Milton Valencia can be reached at