It’s been a busy week for the nation’s high court, with its controversial rulings to repeal provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. But on Thursday, all eyes were on Boston courts, with major decisions on two high-profile cases, aside from the ongoing and riveting trial of former Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.
In the case of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, authorities made the wise decision to prosecute Tsarnaev in federal court after a federal grand jury on Thursday returned a 30-count indictment against the 19-year-old in the deaths of three bombing victims and slaying of an MIT police officer.
Given that Massachusetts does not have capital punishment, the death penalty is on the table in the federal case, as well it should be, if Tsarnaev is convicted. Some legal analysts consider the death penalty a potential bargaining chip if there is to be any plea deal.
Meanwhile, in the case that has taken everyone by surprise this week, former Patriots All-Pro Aaron Hernandez was denied bail for the second time in as many days on Thursday, after his arraignment on Wednesday on a first-degree murder charge in the execution-style killing of a semi-pro football player whose body was found near his home 11 days ago. We don’t see how any judge in the land would have allowed bail for Hernandez, who according to multiple reports on Thursday is now being investigated in connection with a double murder in South Boston in July 2012.
As Superior Court Judge Renee Dupuis pointed out, the case against the fallen sports star is “circumstantial but very, very strong.” What’s more, she said, Hernandez has the wealth and certainly would have the motive to flee if given the opportunity. She made the right decision to deny bail.
All in all, what has been a difficult week for Hub sports — Bruins losing the Stanley Cup, Patriots losing a star player and Celtics losing a coach — it has been a very strong week for the justice system in Boston.