Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev complained in court records Monday that the “self-appointed supporters” who demonstrate outside the federal court in Boston will interfere with his right to a fair trial, because Tsarnaev would falsely be associated with their “outrageous conspiracy theories.”
The lawyers asked a judge to order the US Marshals Service to keep demonstrators a reasonable distance from the courthouse, away from victims, jurors, and the public —
In the court filing, the lawyers pointed to a specific clash last week between one of the demonstrators and Marc Fucarile, one of the bombing survivors, who waved his prosthetic leg at a pro-Tsarnaev demonstrator holding a sign questioning the FBI.
“That’s trickery?” Fucarile asked as he waved his prosthesis. “That’s proof right there.”
The protester, Karin Friedemann, later told the Globe that she understood why Fucarile was upset, but that she questions Tsarnaev’s alleged role in the bombings, not whether the bombings really occurred.
On Monday, Friedemann said she would not contest any court order to keep her or others a certain distance from the courthouse, but she said it would be unfair for the demonstrators to be portrayed as callous toward the victims.
Friedemann, who said she began following the case in part because she is Muslim, also argued that Tsarnaev will not get a fair trial if it is held in Boston, but not because of the protesters. She said she was denied a haircut at her salon in the past week because someone there had seen video footage of her encounter with Fucarile.
If she can’t get a haircut after expressing her point of view, she said, “how can you imagine he’ll get a fair trial.”
Kimberly Ciaramella, 30, a Tsarnaev supporter who is a Framingham mother of three, said she and the others have the right to publicize their view that, while the bombing killed and hurt many people, Tsarnaev is not the culprit.
“No one is saying that people didn’t get hurt,” Ciaramella said, acknowledging that one of the signs that read “Got Proof?” could be misunderstood. “We’re saying the government has the wrong person.”
However, there are some protesters who claim that the bombing was staged.
“Many of the supporters who appear at the courthouse before every court proceeding advocate various conspiracy theories concerning the Marathon bombing, including that the resulting deaths and injuries have been somehow faked as a part of a government plot,” lawyers for Tsarnaev argued in the court filing Monday.
The lawyers noted that the courts have already upheld that courthouses are “not public forums.”
“Governments may adopt safeguards necessary and appropriate to assure that the administration of justice at all stages is free from outside control and influence,” the lawyers argued.
“Survivors, jurors, witnesses, and members of the public must be able to attend court without being assaulted by inflammatory accusations from any source,” the lawyers wrote. “If they cannot, the fairness of the defendant’s trial is likely to be gravely harmed.”
The US Marshals Service would not comment on the court filing.
Max Stern, a longtime Boston defense lawyer who recently joined the firm Todd & Weld, said a judge has the authority to keep demonstrators from obstructing access to public buildings. Stern said the judge would only be restricted from regulating what kind of protests should or should not occur.
He added, however, “I understand why the defense lawyers are making this request.
“They’re concerned that the jury and everyone else in town will associate their client with this point of view, which they say he will not share, and it’s obviously important for them to send that message,” Stern said.
Tsarnaev, now 21, faces the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted of charges that he and his brother set off the bombs at the Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013, that killed three people and injured more than 260. The brothers also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a violent confrontation with police in Watertown.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Jan. 5.
In a separate court filing Monday, his lawyers again asked US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. to relocate the trial outside of Boston, noting that a federal judge in California recently moved a trial because of concerns about pretrial publicity. Those concerns “pale in comparison” to the media coverage of the Marathon bombings, the lawyers argued.
But federal prosecutors responded Monday that O’Toole has already properly ruled that the defense team has failed to show that the judge cannot empanel an impartial jury in Boston.