The lawyer who was just added to the Boston bombing suspect’s defence team has a well-known track record of getting her clients life sentences instead of the death penalty.
Prominent death penalty lawyer Judy Clarke previously defended Susan Smith, who drowned her two children, Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, and Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.
She’s now defending 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been charged with planting two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The attack killed three people and injured more than 200 others.
Clarke spoke about her previous work defending death penalty clients just last week at a legal conference.
“I got a dose of understanding human behaviour and I learned what the death penalty does to us,” she said at the event, according to the Associated Press. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I oppose the death penalty.”
Clarke said that most of her death penalty clients have suffered from severe trauma.
“Many suffer from severe cognitive development issues that affect the core of their being,” she said.
In some cases, Clarke has to convince her clients to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty.
“Our job is to provide them with a reason to live,” Clarke said.
Leading Tsarnaev’s defence team is a public defender who has represented other accused terrorists. Miriam Conrad is known for defending “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Rezwan Ferdaus, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison after admitting he plotted to blow up the Pentagon and the Capitol.
Conrad told Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly why she represents such defendants.
“If you scratch the surface, many have had difficult lives, and, as their lawyer, I sort of see them whole — not just as a person charged with a crime,” she said in the interview. “No one has ever stood up for them, and that is a very powerful, emotional thing.”
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