Tree of Life Synagogue shooter has received a new lawyer

Ivan Weis-Palacios, North Campus Editor

The alleged Tree of Life Synagogue shooter has received new legal representation. Judy Clarke is a criminal defense lawyer and attorney that specializes in death penalty cases. Her past clients include the Unabomber, the Tucson shooter, and the Boston Marathon bomber.

46-year-old Robert Bowers is accused of killing eleven people and wounding six others in a shooting rampage at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018. He is facing 44 criminal charges, 32 of which carry a maximum penalty of death.

Bowers requested a lawyer that specializes in death penalty cases. The federal public defender’s office appointed Clarke to serve as additional legal counsel on his case.

Judy Clarke has had a long career with high profile clients. She went to the University Of South Carolina School Of Law and received her J.D. in 1977. Her first high-profile case was Suzanne Smith, who was accused of killing her two children. Suzanne Smith was found guilty to life in prison but was spared the death penalty. Clarke is given credit in her impassioned defense that saved Smith from the death penalty.

Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was her next high profile case. He sent seven bombs through the US postal service. He plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Clarke later defended Buford Furrow the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting, an event that was motivated by the same bigotry and hate that motivated the Tree of Life massacre. Clarke advised her client to plead guilty. Furrow did and now he is serving a life sentence.

In a high profile and incredible controversial case, even in comparison to the others, Clarke defended Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the suspects of the 9/11 attacks. Moussaoui latter defended himself but kept Clarke as a co-counsel. He pled guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Eric Rudolph committed the Centennial Olympic Park bombing an attack that killed two and injured over a hundred. Through a plea bargain that Clarke secured, Rudolph plead guilty to that attack and then went on to take credit for numerous other bombings that had taken place.
Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson shooter, was defended by Clarke and also plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. The Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was another of Clarke’s clients but did not plead guilty to his crimes. As a result he was sentenced to death when he was found guilty.

Clarke has served as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and received the John Frank Award from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is a respected lawyer who publicly opposes the death penalty.

A retired lawyer native to the Pittsburgh area had this to say, “The right to counsel is a founding principle of our American judicial system.  Many states require a set of minimum standards before an attorney may represent a defendant where the death penalty is sought.”

She went on to say, “Adequate and effective representation of defendants, even those who unquestionably commit heinous crimes, is necessary to ensure that justice is achieved for the accused, their victims, and society as a whole.”

It seems that Bowers wishes to avoid the death penalty. If he pleads guilty he might just be sentenced to life in prison. If he fights the case, chances are he will be sentenced to death. For now the legal teams on both side can just review the evidence and discuss strategy until the case starts.