April 30, 2013 in Nation/World

Ex-Spokane lawyer to defend Tsarnaev

Judy Clarke known for life sentences
Denise Lavoie Associated Press
 

Clarke
(Full-size photo)

BOSTON – The defense team representing the Boston Marathon bombing suspect got a major boost Monday with the addition of Judy Clarke, a San Diego lawyer who has managed to get life sentences instead of the death penalty for several high-profile clients, including the Unabomber and the gunman in the rampage that injured former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Clarke worked in Spokane from 1992 to 2002 as the executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho. The appointment of Clarke, now based in San Diego, was approved today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler.

Clarke led child-killer Joseph Duncan’s defense team during his 2008 death penalty hearing in Boise.

Her national reputation, however, was earned earlier for her defense of Ted Kaczynski, the Montana recluse convicted of being the Unabomber; Susan Smith, who drowned her two children; domestic terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph, who detonated a bomb during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; and most recently Tucson, Ariz., shooter Jared Loughner. All received life sentences instead of the death penalty.

Bowler denied, at least for now, a request from Miriam Conrad, the public defender of 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to appoint a second death-penalty lawyer: David Bruck, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction during the April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line.

The suspect’s lawyers could renew their motion to appoint another death-penalty expert if he is indicted, the judge said.

Clarke has rarely spoken publicly about her work and did not return a call seeking comment Monday. However, at a speech Friday at a legal conference in Los Angeles, she talked about how she had been “sucked into the black hole, the vortex” of death-penalty cases 18 years ago when she represented Smith.

“I got a dose of understanding human behavior, and I learned what the death penalty does to us,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I oppose the death penalty.”

In other developments in the Boston case:

• FBI agents visited the Rhode Island home of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s in-laws and carried away several bags, at least one labeled as DNA samples, CNN reported.

Katherine Russell, Tsarnaev’s widow, has been staying at the North Kingstown home.

• A medical examiner has determined but did not release the cause of death for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, authorities said. His body is unclaimed, and authorities said the information will remain private until his remains are released and a death certificate is filed.

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