A Los Angeles Superior Court judge appointed an additional lawyer Monday to help defend Night Stalker suspect Richard Ramirez, bringing to three the number of defense lawyers in the case.
The appointment of Ray C. Clark was announced by Judge Michael A. Tynan as testimony resumed in the case after a two-week hiatus because of nervous exhaustion on the part of lead defense lawyer Daniel V. Hernandez.
Clark’s appointment means that the public cost of the much-delayed trial--about $1.5 million so far--will begin escalating more sharply now because Clark’s fees will be paid by the county.
Daniel Hernandez and Arturo Hernandez, who have represented Ramirez since the fall of 1985, are retained by Ramirez and his family, although certain defense costs, such as fees for investigators, have been picked up by the county.
Since jury selection began in July, Arturo Hernandez has virtually stopped coming to court, prompting Daniel Hernandez to look for assistance during much of the summer. Arturo Hernandez showed up Monday as ordered recently by the judge.
Heads 3-Person Firm
Clark, 58, heads a three-attorney firm in Los Angeles.
“Ray Clark is an outstanding lawyer,” said Carl Jones, a Los Angeles attorney who heads Alternate Defense Counsel, which provides court-appointed lawyers in area courtrooms. “He’s a hard worker and a very good lawyer.”
Jones and Clark were partners for nearly a decade until Jones left to create Alternate Defense Counsel in 1983.
In announcing Clark’s appointment, Tynan told the jury and alternate jury that Clark’s entry into the case will not cause any delays in the Night Stalker trial. “He’ll be with us for the duration of the case,” Tynan added. The judge has estimated that the trial may take up to two years. It began Jan. 30.
Last week, Daniel Hernandez sought, but was denied, several weeks off to recuperate from what he called nervous exhaustion.
Clark had a 14-year career as an electronics engineer before enrolling in the Southwestern University School of Law. He graduated in 1973 and passed the state bar that year.
Had Discussed Cases
Clark said he and Daniel Hernandez have been discussing cases since 1985 when Hernandez started spending time in Los Angeles on the Ramirez case.
The two talked seriously about Clark’s participation in the Ramirez defense in January, Clark said.
Unlike Hernandez, who has no experience in death penalty cases, Clark has handled many such cases, including defending a client later convicted of murdering a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in 1984. That client, Clark said, was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Until now, the lawyer said, he has always tried cases alone.
Clark said he met briefly with Ramirez before court opened Monday, saying that the defendant gregariously welcomed him aboard after asking him questions about his qualifications. Clark said Ramirez seemed “really upbeat” and is “a very personable guy.”
Ramirez, 29, is on trial for 13 murders and 30 other felonies in a terrifying spree of nighttime residential attacks in 1984-85 throughout Los Angeles County.