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Judge denies request for public disclosure of Tsarnaev defense funds

This file photo provided Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
This file photo provided Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File

A federal judge on Friday declined to make public the amount of taxpayer funds expended for the legal defense of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while he appeals his death sentence.

US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. wrote in a three-page order that the motion for disclosure, which The Boston Globe filed in March, will be granted at a later date. Tsarnaev, 23, was sentenced to death last year, and his automatic appeal is pending.

“While the appeal is pending, there remains the possibility of remand for retrial, and that possibility invokes concerns about protecting legitimate defense interests from compromise by public disclosure,” O’Toole wrote.

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He said, “The Globe, and the public generally, will be entitled to the information requested at the appropriate time, but that time is not now. . . . That will not occur at least until the conclusion of proceedings on direct appeal.”

The newspaper had asked that O’Toole, who presided over Tsarnaev’s trial in federal court in Boston, make public all funds paid for defense lawyers, investigators, experts, and others.

The Globe also requested access to vouchers seeking payment for defense counsel and investigative services, as well as the information provided to justify the expenses.

“[T]he public has a compelling interest in understanding the economic costs of the government’s decision to pursue the death penalty, and in assessing whether indigent defendants are provided sufficient resources to obtain fair and adequate representation in death penalty cases,” attorneys for the Globe wrote in the motion.

Tsarnaev's court-appointed defense team at trial included federal public defenders and noted death penalty lawyers Judy Clarke and David Bruck.

The confessed bomber is currently being held in a federal supermax prison in Colorado, and his appeal will be heard in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. A hearing date has not been set.

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Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, set off the bombs that exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three people including an 8-year-old child and wounding more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a confrontation with police in Watertown.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.