The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will look to determine whether the trial judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers followed proper process upon deciding to hold the high-profile trial in Boston and whether an impartial jury was selected.
"You've got lots of qualified jurors. The government's own data shows it ... You just have to make sure you don't pick the wrong ones and that's what it sounds like you did," Appeals Court Judge William J. Kayatta Jr. said.
Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 federal charges and sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2015 after he and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev carried out a plot to detonate two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
Three people were killed in the blast and more than 260 were injured, including more than a dozen who lost limbs. A police officer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was killed days after as the brothers evaded capture.
Tsarnaev's attorney Daniel Habib said the trial never should have been held in Boston, as he described the city itself as a victim of the attack.
"It was the extraordinary effect of this crime on this community Habib said. "The effect of the crime on this community will not change."
Tsarnaev's defense team alleged bias on the jury, pointing to social media posts by two of the jurors including one who called Tsarnaev a "piece of garbage" and another who "started a Facebook discussion about the jury selection process, during which a friend urged him to 'play the part,' 'get on the jury,' and 'send' Tsarnaev 'to jail where he will be taken care of.'"
They also said jurors should have been made aware of a triple homicide on Sept. 11, 2011, connected to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, alleging Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was under the influence of his radicalized older brother.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Glaser said Thursday that it would have been an "abuse of standard" to move the trial out of Boston.