Judge made decision on Miranda rights for Tsarnaev on her own

Eric Holder, the Justice Department, the FBI and a federal judge have made an absolute hash of the legal proceedings surrounding the arrest and arraignment of Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The fact is, the Justice Department nor the FBI challenged the judge in her decision to read Tsarnaev his rights. It turns out, according to this Wall Street Journal article, that the FBI shouldn't have been surprised that the judge showed up on Monday to read the suspect his Miranda rights because she told them on Saturday that she would be back on Monday.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Thursday, "The rules of criminal procedure require the court to advise the defendant of his right to silence and his right to counsel during the initial appearance.'' Mr. Boyd said Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler made it clear on Sunday, after the first sealed charges were filed in her court against Mr. Tsarnaev, 19 years old, that the hearing would be held the following day.

Federal rules require that defendants appear before a judge without unnecessary delay--usually defined as within one business day.

Judge Bowler convened the brief, makeshift court hearing in the hospital room about 16 hours after the complaint was filed. Her reading of the Miranda warning came as part of the formal presentation of charges to the suspect, an act that would normally take place in court.

Judge Bowler was the first government official to advise Mr. Tsarnaev of his right to remain silent after his capture Friday night, officials briefed on the matter said.

The judge first told the Justice Department on Saturday that she intended to read Mr. Tsarnaev his rights on Monday, according to people briefed on the discussions. One U.S. official said the judge cited the intense television coverage of the capture as one reason for initiating the criminal prosecution.

Through a court clerk, the judge declined to comment.

Why didn't the Justice Department or FBI push for the public security exemption on Sunday if they were told that judge would be back Monday? They had been questioning Tsarnaev for less than 48 hours when he clammed up after having been read his rights.

It's uinclear what statements by Tsarnaev, if any, will be admissable in court that were made pre-Miranda. I suspect a good lawyer would challenge that confession he reportedly made and given how prejudicial it was, it may be thrown out.

But they appear to have enough physical evidence to get a conviction. That will be cold comfort if we fail to discover a link to other terrorists in the US because we didn't take advantage of a legal means to question a suspect with mirandizing him.