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Judge Wants Kaczynski To Keep Federal Lawyers

Mon., Jan. 19, 1998

The presiding judge in the Unabomber case wants defendant Theodore Kaczynski to keep his federal defenders if possible, and has scheduled a hearing on Tuesday to address the matter.

Dr. Sally Johnson, the federal Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist who examined Kaczynski over five days last week, submitted her non-public report Saturday to U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr.

Kaczynski, 55, is accused of being the bomber whose anarchist crusade took three lives and resulted in injuries to 23 other people between 1978 and 1995.

If convicted of a bombing in Sacramento that killed California Forestry Association president Gilbert Murray in 1995, he could be sentenced to death.

Johnson’s report is supposed to address whether Kaczynski is suffering from any type of mental defect that would interfere with his ability to understand the proceedings and its consequences and assist in his defense. If he is not, he could act as his own lawyer.

However, knowing he would be at a severe disadvantage against three crack federal prosecutors, and reluctant to force a continuance and perhaps the selection of a new jury by appointing another lawyer to represent him, Burrell is working overtime to find a way to keep federal defenders Quin Denvir and Judy Clarke in the case.

If Kaczynski is found competent, the judge has said, he might order the lawyers to present the type of defense their client wants - no hint of a mental problem, at least during the guilt phase. Prosecutors, wary of the trial becoming a spectacle if Kaczynski is given the opportunity to present his own case and interrogate witnesses, have said Burrell should order the federal defenders to bow to the defendant’s wishes.

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