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Judge: Boston Bomber Must File Administrative Claim Before Continuing Lawsuit

— June 14, 2022

A federal magistrate found that convicted Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev must complete a multistep grievance process before proceeding with his First Amendment claims.

A federal judge has dismissed part of a civil rights lawsuit filed by convicted Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

According to The Gazette, Tsarnaev, who is currently incarcerated at U.S.P. Florence, is subject to a series of stringent “special administrative measures.”

These measures, permitted by federal law, control inmates’ ability to communicate with friends and relatives if the government has reason to believe they could direct or inspire acts of violence.

However, Tsarnaev has repeatedly claimed that these measures are overly and inappropriately restrictive, preventing him from sending photographs and hobby craft items through the mail.

Tsarnaev is also not allowed to contact his nieces or nephews by phone or by mail.

Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty ruled against Tsarnaev, granting the federal government’s motion to dismiss aspects of the convicted terrorist’s claim.

In his ruling, Hegarty observed that Tsarnaev had not continued the multistep grievance process required for inmates to file a lawsuit.

Tsarnaev had earlier argued that the multistep grievance process was effectively a manufactured dead-end. In a May hearing, Tsarnaev said that the administrative claims chain refused to acknowledge his complaint, telling him that the Federal Bureau of Prisons “does not generate the [special administrative measure] and does not have the authority to modify it.”

Spectators helping victims soon after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack; image by Aaron Tang, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Spectators helping victims soon after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack; image by Aaron Tang, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hegarty, adds The Gazette, previously rebuffed the government’s attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed, finding that the “vague and veiled language” used to decline Tsarnaev’s requests was unsatisfactory.

“You can see from inmate’s perspective, that does sound futile to give a grievance to somebody who can’t do anything about it,” Hegarty said during the same May hearing. “That’s why I think it was a misleading comment to say the B.O.P. cannot do anything.”

However, Hegarty was apparently persuaded that Tsarnaev could have further options if only he continued the grievance process.

Consequently, in an order dated June 9, Hegarty instructed Tsarnaev to continue through every stage of the administrative claims process before returning to court.

In the meantime, Tsarnaev’s lawsuit will continue on its only remaining claim, which relates to restrictions on his ability to communicate with his nieces and nephews over the phone and through the mail.

While Tsarnaev retains the right to see his nieces and nephews during in-person visiting hours, he claims that any additional prohibitions violate his rights to familial association under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The government, meanwhile, has maintained that it has a right to prevent Tsarnaev from potentially “attempting to inculcate a desire to harm the United States in these vulnerable young children.”

Hegarty has instructed the federal government to prepare a response to Tsarnaev’s remaining claim by the end of the week.


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