Azamat Defense Proposes Additional Jury Instructions

“A person has no legal obligation to voluntarily provide information or things requested by investigators.”

By Karin Friedemann, TMO


Edward Hayden, defense attorney for Khairullozhon Matanov who is accused of lying to federal investigators about his ties to accused Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, talks to reporters following Matanov’s arraignment in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts June 4, 2014. Kyrgyzstan citizen Matanov on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to federal investigators about his ties to the two ethnic Chechen men accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The trial for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friend Azamat Tazhakakov is set for June 30 before Judge Douglas Woodlock. Defense attorney Nicholas Wooldridge has submitted a highly creative set of proposed jury instructions to the Court.

“Since the indictment is not evidence and since it does not purport to prove or even indicate evidence against the defendant, you are to give no weight whatsoever to it… Remember that those are merely accusations. What matters is the evidence, or lack thereof, that you heard in the trial,” begins the 54 page document explaining US law to jurors, who might be biased by the heavy handedness of the government or by the degrading media descriptions of the defendant.

Most of the instructions are worded quite generally. They define reasonable doubt, presumption of innocence, burden of proof and explain the role of the jury.
The document advises the jury to question the credibility of the witnesses: “Does the witness have a relationship with the government or the defendant which may affect how he or she testified?… Even if the witness was impartial, you should consider whether the witness had an opportunity to observe the facts he or she testified about… In assessing the credibility of any witness, you should be aware that the law provides that a jury is free, based on a witness’s demeanor, to assume the truth of what he denies.”

Furthermore, “In evaluating credibility of the witnesses, you should take into account any evidence that the witness who testified may benefit in some way from the outcome of this case… The fact that the prosecution is brought in the name of the United States of America entitles the government to no greater consideration than that accorded to any other party to a litigation.”
The document warns against the misuse of summary evidence and defines stipulation of evidence. Then, upon its 15th point it starts to become very specific to Azamat’s case.
“You have heard evidence that the defendant made statements in which the government claims he admitted certain facts. It is for you to decide (1) whether the defendant made the statement attributed to him by the government, and (2) if so, how much weight to give it…  The jury should consider the age, training, education, occupation, and physical and mental condition of the defendant at the time the alleged statement was made, as well as his treatment while in custody or under interrogation as shown by all the evidence in the case.”

“A person has no legal obligation to voluntarily provide information or things requested by investigators.”

The document warns the jurors against guilt by association and advises them to question the reliability of Russian translations.

Then, it becomes very personal! The defense seems to be worried that Dias Kadrybayev’s girlfriend, who has already testified in front of a grand jury, will try to incriminate Azamat.

“You have heard the testimony of Bayan Kumiskali. She provided evidence under an immunity agreement with the government. Some people in this position are entirely truthful when testifying. Still, you should consider the testimony of this individual with particular caution given that she was given an agreement from the government not to be prosecuted for her role in the alleged conduct. They may have had reason to make up stories or exaggerate what others did because they wanted to help themselves.”

“Obviously, it is much more pleasant to be a witness than a defendant and the law requires that you scrupulously examine the cooperating witness’ motives in persuading the government to accept him as a witness rather than prosecute him at trial.”

It advises the jury to make sure they are charging the right person and to take into consideration the witness’ state of mind.

“The testimony of a witness who was using drugs at the time of the events he is testifying about, or who is using drugs, or is an addict, at the time of his testimony may be less believable because of the effect the drugs may have on his ability to perceive or relate the events in question.”

“You should judge the testimony of Defendant in the same manner as you judge the testimony of other witnesses in this case… The fact that a witness may be employed by the federal government as a law enforcement official does not mean that his testimony is necessarily deserving of more or less consideration or greater or lesser weight than that of an ordinary witness,” the document reads.

The jury is told that they are free to reject the testimony of an expert witness.

The instructions define conspiracy very carefully as “an agreement or understanding between two or more persons that they will commit an unlawful act.” The government must prove not only that the defendant disposed of or destroyed something but that he planned to obstruct justice. The jury cannot declare him guilty unless they all agree that the defendant knowingly and willfully committed an unlawful action, and they must all agree on which action and how said action was unlawful.

Whether or not Judge Woodlock will require the jury to read these instructions, this proposal from Attorney Nicholas Wooldridge makes public the defense position, which has largely been muzzled and overwhelmed by media reports on the indictment.

Dias and Azamat, who up until now had been sharing a cell, have now been separated because they requested separate trials.


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