Legal options were few in handling of Boston bombing suspect

David G. Savage and Richard A. Serrano (Los Angeles Times) | April 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — The federal rules say a person making an arrest “must take the defendant before a magistrate without unnecessary delay.” And the Supreme Court has said the judicial process must begin within 48 hours. This rule aims to “prevent secret detention,” wrote former Justice David H. Souter, adding that “no one with any smattering of the history of 20th-Century dictatorships needs a lecture on the subject.”

Despite criticism from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill that the questioning of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was prematurely curtailed, legal experts say the only way to have avoided triggering that process once he was arrested a week ago would have been to declare him an enemy combatant. But many experts doubt the courts would permit secret detention of a suspect who is a U.S. citizen and was taken into custody in connection to a crime on American soil.

“All of this was done pursuant to standard court procedure,” said an Obama administration law enforcement official, who said that the administration believed it had little choice but to charge Tsarnaev, despite the considerable risk that he would stop talking and the frustration of a special team of federal agents who wanted to keep questioning him.

The time for questioning the 19-year-old suspect ended when federal Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler came to his hospital room Monday, read him his rights and appointed a lawyer. He had been arrested April 19, and charges were filed and signed by the judge Sunday evening, within the 48-hour period.

Read more at:,0,1962743.story

Photo credit: Elise Amendola, Associated Press / April 26, 2013

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