Monday, January 10, 2011

The most hated lawyer in America right now is...

... Judy Clarke, who is going to represent Jared Loughner, who is charged with murdering Chief Federal Judge John M. Roll and others, and attempting to kill Representative Giffords.

She has been the most hated lawyer before, representing the Unabomber, Susan Smith, and Zacarias Moussaoui. She may be the most hated, but she's the reason our system works. What would happen if no lawyer would agree to represent Loughner?

In any event, TalkLeft has an excellent write-up on her:

They don't make defense lawyers any better than Judy. You may remember her from the Susan Smith case in South Carolina, where Smith was charged with drowning her two sons; or the Unabomber case, or the case of Eric Rudolf. Thanks to Judy (and those who helped her), all avoided the death penalty. She also worked on the Zacarias Moussaoui defense team for a while. The AP called her "a one woman dream team."

Judy is a past-President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), where she's affectionately called "Saint Judy" -- and a friend. She is both a great person and a great lawyer.

From Judy's closing in the guilt phase of Susan Smith:

This is not a case about evil, this is a case about sadness," Clarke said. "She made a horrible, horrible decision to be at that lake that night. She made that decision with a confused mind and a heart that had no hope. But confusion is not evil and hopelessness is not malice."

In the penalty phase of the trial to decide life or death:

Smith's lawyers countered in their opening statement that Smith knows she has "sinned" and "accepts responsibility" for killing her sons.

But defense attorney Judy Clarke also implored the jury to understand that Smith suffered from "mental illness" and had "snapped" on the night of the drownings after a lifetime of emotional trauma. The boys' deaths, Clarke told the jurors, was the result of Smith's own botched suicide attempt.

"Suicide is why we're here. In her own suicidal confusion, she believed the children would go with her, but the body wills to live and Susan jumped out of the car," Clarke said. "Once the car began rolling, those children were lost and Susan's life was lost."


Her voice steady, Clarke rejected [prosecutor] Giese's argument in her 14-minute reply, saying that the boys were the "sunshine" of Smith's life. "Use your common sense, it was not a boyfriend" that propelled the drownings, Clarke told the jury. "Use your common sense, it was not to get rid of an obstacle."

Instead, Clarke urged the jury to see Smith as driven by a "failing life," by emotional problems that stemmed from a father who committed suicide when she was 6 and a stepfather who molested her when she was 16.

"When we talk about Susan's life, we're not trying to gain your sympathy," Clarke said. "We're trying to gain your understanding. Susan Smith tried to cope with a failing life and she sank."

The jury returned a verdict of life in prison.


Anonymous said...

Headline should read "most admired lawyer." Any lawyer worth his salt would know that. Especially a blogging lawyer.

David Oscar Markus said...

Of course we admire her. But most of America will (unjustifiably) get angry at her.

C.L.J. said...

I am not a lawyer, and initially I was, well, honestly, outraged. How dare he get a high-powered lawyer!

But then I realized that if he doesn't have the best defense lawyer he can get, there would always be a question about whether or not due process was maintained. If we cannot accomplish justice with so many witnesses to an atrocious crime and the smoking gun literally in his hand, then justice must not exist.

Maybe he is mentally unhinged, and did not know what he was doing, or maybe he's as sane as anyone, and has spent years laying the groundwork for an insanity defense; only with competent lawyers on both sides of the court entering into the fray can we hope to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion: discovering the truth of the matter, and acting accordingly.

Best wishes to Judy Clarke.

Anonymous said...

Most of America only thinks what bloggers and radio mouths tell them to think.

Anonymous said...

Your headline remains completely out of touch with reality. The mainstream media (NY Times, USA Today, Chicago Trib, LA Times, Washington Post, and all TV news) all reported on Clarke in glowing, admirable terms. A quick scan of the blogs (even the bottom-thinkers) shows the exact same thing. There is no inkling that anyone hates Judy or is angry at her for defending this case. Only your blog has the temerity to suggest she would be perceived as publicly hated. How about you withdraw your nasty headline-grabbing headline, apologize for the poor judgment, and just note that she is admired as a defender of those who need it most.