Judy Clarke: The 'Badass' Lawyer Who Represents Mass Murderers

Judith Clarke attorneyWhat do the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, child-murderer Susan Smith, and Gabby Giffords' shooter Jared Lee Loughner all have in common?

Attorney Judy Clarke has saved all their lives.

Clarke, 60, is a legend among defense attorneys. She has represented some of the most heinous killers in America, steers their cases away from the media, and quietly rescues them from death row. And this is why Quora users voted her one of the most "badass" lawyers in the country (via Business Insider).

A good public defender must fully defend even the clearly guilty, and that is who most of Clarke's high-profile clients are. Her skill is in convincing her clients and the prosecutors to avoid trial, and settle for a plea deal of life imprisonment instead. She has befriended some of America's most reviled people, in order to save them from what she calls "legalized homicide."

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"Judy knows no one wants to be measured by the worst moment of their lives," her friend Jack King of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers told Time. "She can reach into people and find the human being inside, no matter how the rest of the world looks at them."

According to King, Clarke's compassion can be traced to her religious upbringing in North Carolina. "She does it because it's a calling," he said. "She's trying to stop the death penalty one human being at a time."

Clarke received her law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1977, and immediately began working for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, representing poor clients who couldn't afford their own counsel. She rose up the ranks, becoming executive director after just five years. She later served as the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the largest U.S. organization of defense attorneys, and is now a professor of practice at Washington and Lee University School of Law, along with her husband.

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But she still tackles cases when asked. That happened last year, when no public defender in Arizona would touch Jared Lee Loughner, since one of his victims was the state's chief judge, John Roll. In August last year, Loughner plead guilty to 19 counts, and was sentenced to life without parole.

"Judy Clarke is almost invisible. She never seeks publicity and never attempts to try her cases in the court of public opinion," Frederick Leatherman, a former defense attorney and professed friend of Clarke's wrote on his blog after the ruling. "... Congratulations on your successful efforts to save Jared's life."

Gabrielle Giffords Attends Sentencing Of Her Shooter, Jared Loughner

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Bet the victim's wish they could meet that bitch. She deserves to be in the electric chair right along with the rest of the people on death row soaking up the tax payers money. Get rid of these slime balls. 480 volts for 60 second would cost tax payers a couple of bucks end of story end of tax burden clean out the jail system. Capitol punishment does deterr!

January 09 2013 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jerry Small

another do gooder helping us remember our merciful side. as long as they are not going to allow them to appeal the sentence I'd go along with it, keeping them locked up is a lot cheeper than dozens of appeals and a life time of paying public defenders to represent them.

January 08 2013 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will go along with her if she supports them and if they kill again she will stand trial for murder simply because if they were exacuted they could not have murdered again

January 08 2013 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

so she takes them home with her

January 08 2013 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome woman..she should be commended. No one deserves their life be taken from them, not even murderers.

January 08 2013 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good thing Bin Laden was shot and killed.

January 08 2013 at 4:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If she feels so strongly that confessed and convicted serial killers should not be put to death, then she also should take on the supporting of these felons for the rest of their lives. The cost of her convictions against the death penalty should not borne by the public, especially in the cases with overwhelming evidence of guilt. And, like stated, go to the families of the victims (somehow always forgotten) and explain to them the "redeeming" values of her clients, and why they deserve to live the rest of their life at someone elses' expense.

January 08 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How can you sleep at night ?

"OFF WITH THEIR COLLECTIVE HEADS !!" and in the cases of those that she defended like that, LITERALLY.

January 08 2013 at 4:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

maybe there should be a serial killer for attorneys that represent serial killers

January 08 2013 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder if she would have defended Hitler, or Mussolini, or Muhammed Atta. Should we just give these people a pass - as having had a bad day? " Sorry I killed your son or daughter. It wasn't very nice of me." And the care and custody of these criminals becomes our responsiblity?

January 08 2013 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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