A lawyer for one of the college friends of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal judge on Tuesday to lift a court order that restricts what the attorney can say publicly in the friend’s own criminal case.
The attorney for Azamat Tazhayakov argued before US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler that there is no reason for the protective order, and that it unfairly allows for federal prosecutors to decide what materials are put into the public record.
The lawyer, Nicholas Wooldridge, asked Bowler to lift restrictions that prevent him from commenting publicly on or disseminating evidence in Tazhayakov’s case.
“The government has been the only ones who have been able to comment on this, they’re the only ones who have been able to create a public record,” he said.
The court restrictions, known as a protective order, are often handed out in high-profile cases and prevent defense lawyers and prosecutors from making public evidence in the case before a trial.
The order in Tazhayakov’s case was enacted soon after his arrest, and it required Wooldridge to share evidence only with his defense team and with Tazhayakov’s immediate family members.
Wooldridge said the order should be lifted now that his client has been indicted. He also argued that “a conservative reading of the protective order would make it so that we could not comment on what’s on the public record now.”
But Assistant US Attorney John Capin argued Tuesday that the protective order is properly in place to prevent any pre-trial publicity that could prejudice the defendants in the case, and he noted that court rules prohibit attorneys from commenting on ongoing proceedings, anyway.
Attorneys for two of Tazhayakov’s co-defendants, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, are negotiating a new agreement with prosecutors that would keep the protective order in place while broadening the restrictions so that more of the defendants’ family members can have access to the evidence.
Wooldridge told Bowler he would not agree with any protective order. Bowler said she would take his request under advisement. A status hearing has been set for Jan. 15.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were friends of Tsarnaev and fellow students at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. Prosecutors allege they took evidence from his dorm room after he was identified as a suspect in the bombings, tossed it in the trash, and later lied about it.
Phillipos, who was also a UMass student, was accused of lying to investigators, as well.
All three have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Tsarnaev, who is now 20, faces multiple charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty for his alleged role in the bombing. Federal prosecutors from Massachusetts say they will recommend by the end of this week whether to seek the death penalty.
A hearing in Tsarnaev’s case is slated for Nov. 12.