Federal authorities released pictures of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing on Thursday as firms and lawyers with Boston ties — including compensation guru Kenneth Feinberg — stepped up to help victims and practices in the afflicted area strove to return to normal.
Richard DesLauriers, special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Boston field office, said during a news conference that surveillance cameras captured images of "Suspect One" and Suspect Two" lugging backpacks in the area before the blasts. One of the men, he said, was seen leaving his backpack outside a restaurant.
"At this time these are the people of interest to the FBI," he said, and urged the public and news organizations to disseminate the still and moving images of the men as broadly as possible.
Meanwhile, Feinberg, a native of Brockton, Mass., who administered the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the BP oil spill fund, was tapped as The One Fund Boston’s administrator. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino launched the fund to coordinate donations for victims.
Boston-based Goodwin Procter quickly signed on as the fund’s pro-bono lawyer. The first order of business was applying for nonprofit tax status, said trusts & estate planning partner Sue Abbott. Other legal issues, including licensing questions, were also starting to crop up, she said. "This is all happening very quickly. It’s a work in progress. We’re delighted to be able to help."
The Boston Bar Association was rounding up lawyers willing to give pro bono advice to independent businesses harmed by the attack. Association president J.D. Smeallie said that as of midday Thursday, more than 80 attorneys, two law schools and five law firms had signed up within a few hours of the association’s appeal. "We were just looking for the right opportunity to do something meaningful," the Holland & Knight partner said.
That might include helping companies with business insurance or employee problems, or figuring out landlords’ obligations to repair damages, he said.
Meanwhile, firms near the scene of the attack in the Back Bay or with windows overlooking it were adjusting to an unfamiliar world.
"There’s a palpable sense of unease," Foley & Lardner Boston partner Gabor Garai said. His firm’s attorneys and workers returned to their Prudential Center offices on nearby Huntington Ave. on Wednesday. The office was closed for Monday’s Patriot’s Day state holiday and opted for a remote work arrangement on Tuesday.
Garai described the several Boylston Street blocks that remained closed to cars and pedestrians as "totally empty with all the litter still there." She said: "It’s a strange landscape that you’ve never seen before. It’s our street and suddenly it looks alien to us."
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi of Minneapolis maintains a Boston office in the nearby Prudential Tower. "The Boylston side of our office is literally in our front yard," said regional managing partner Tony Froio. The firm was closed for the state holiday because of the difficulty getting around in marathon traffic but five people, including one client, were in the building during the bombing. They were forced by the subsequent area lockdown to hang around for hours.
The office reopened on Tuesday. "People are still on edge when they see Boylston Street completely deserted in front of our building. It looks like a deserted movie set. It’s really eerie — really strange," he said.
As the massive criminal investigation focused on two figures captured on video cameras in the area before the attacks, defense lawyers agreed to offer preliminary views of how a criminal case might go down.
Boston solo practitioner Bernard Grossberg said one of the first orders of business for the defense would be to seek a protective order to limit information released to general public. "When you’re getting ready for trial, you don’t want jurors to know certain things that may or may not be produced during trial," he said.
The nuts and bolts of defending someone charged with terrorism-related offenses is similar to representing a criminal defendant, but "the atmosphere is much more stressful," said Tamar Birckhead, a former federal defender for al-Qaeda shoe bomber Richard Reid.
Birckhead, now an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said the Reid case involved gaining access to documents requiring a security clearance, but that also happens in some criminal cases.
Reid pleaded guilty, but Birckhead said she imagines seating a jury could be challenging if the Boston case comes to trial. "I would imagine it would be quite challenging to find a jury of objective folks. You might have to request a change in venue," she said.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.