Tsarnaev Defense: ‘He Did It’

sketch of the defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  and attorney Judy Clarke

“He did it.”

Judy Clarke is the lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the survivor, and younger of two brothers accused of perpetrating the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013.  She is not an ordinary defense attorney, claims The Guardian.

It was not a standard opening statement for a defense attorney to give regarding her client.  However, this is not a run-of-the-mill criminal trial, either; it is a huge federal trial, carrying a possible death sentence – the most high-profile trial of a terrorist on US soil since the Oklahoma City bomber, states The Guardian.

Clarke has specialized in saving the lives of clients like Tsarnaev for her whole career.  And she is, friends and colleagues told the Guardian, phenomenally good at it.

She has become an expert in the delicate tactics needed to take someone who is seen in the eyes of the world as a monster, and humanize them – just enough to convince a jury to save their life.

The list of clients she has helped escape the death penalty in this way is a who’s who of American killers. There’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber.  There was also Buford Furrow, the Aryan Nations member who opened fire on the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center in 1999, and, more recently, Jared Loughner, the shooter who killed six people and injured 15 more, including representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson in 2011.

Nora Demleitner is the dean of the Washington and Lee University school of law, where Clarke also teaches. She told the Guardian that Clarke’s feelings about the death penalty are what drive and animate her.

There are two main parts to the trial:  the phase of proving guilt or innocence, and the sentencing phase.

Demleitner said that Clarke’s actions could cut down the time spent fighting in the guilt phase, and speed the arrival of the sentencing phase.  Because the rules for evidence are different from the guilt phase, Clarke will be much freer to present evidence showing Tsarnaev as under the control of his elder brother Tamerlan, states The Guardian.

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