Here's what to know about judge in marathon bombing trial

AP News
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Posted: Jan 15, 2015 3:59 PM

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. is presiding over the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. O'Toole has handled several high-profile trials since he became a federal judge two decades ago. Here are some things to know about him:

BIOGRAPHY:

Born in 1947 in Worcester, Massachusetts, now 67. Graduated from Boston College, 1969; Harvard Law School, 1972. Partner at Boston law firm until appointment to Boston Municipal Court, 1982. Appointed by Gov. Michael Dukakis to be a judge in Superior Court, 1990. Nominated to the federal bench in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.

CASES:

O'Toole presided at the 2012 trial of Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man convicted of conspiring to help al-Qaida. He sentenced Mehanna to 17½ years in prison.

He also presided over a civil case brought by crime writer Patricia Cornwell against her former financial adviser.

In 2004, O'Toole rejected a request from civil rights groups to stop allowing security officials to search the bags of bus and subway passengers traveling near the Democratic National Convention in Boston. O'Toole said the searches were a response to a genuine security concern and the intrusion on passengers was limited. Civil rights groups had argued that the inspections were unconstitutionally intrusive and violated personal privacy rights.

In 2002, O'Toole ordered United Airlines to give a deaf airline mechanic a job offer and pay him at least $320,000 in damages and lost wages, finding that United acted in "bad faith" when it argued the man could not perform the critical duties of a line mechanic and expressed concern for his safety on a busy airport tarmac.

REPUTATION:

O'Toole is known for his businesslike, straight-to-the-point manner. He is a man of few words on the bench and does not allow lawyers to ramble. He is known for keeping hearings brief and his written rulings short. When Tsarnaev's lawyers asked to suspend jury selection for at least a month because of the potential impact of the recent terror attacks in Paris, O'Toole rejected the request without holding a hearing, saying he remains convinced a fair and impartial jury can be chosen.