Susan Smith’s Lawyer to Join Unabomber Defense
A lawyer who helped convince a South Carolina jury to spare Susan Smith’s life has joined Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski’s defense team--a move observers said Tuesday may hint at an insanity defense.
Federal Defender Quin Denvir said he has filed papers asking U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell to appoint Judy Clarke as his co-counsel.
Kaczynski has met with Clarke and wants her on the team, Denvir said.
A staunch opponent of the death penalty, Clarke is the federal public defender for eastern Washington and Idaho. She took an unpaid leave of absence to assist in the defense of Smith, who faced death penalty charges in the drownings of her two young sons in a lake near Union, S.C.
Legal experts give Clarke high marks. “A first-rate defense lawyer who leaves no stone unturned has joined the team,” said Georgetown University law professor Paul Rothstein.
Clarke portrayed Smith as a woman whose life spun out of control--a victim of childhood sexual abuse who had struggled with mental illness all her life.
Clarke has 17 years of experience as a federal defender, including 13 years in San Diego.
Kaczynski is accused of seven of 16 explosions connected to the Unabomber, and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Kaczynski has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in a Sacramento jail.
Frank Rubino, who defended Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on drug trafficking charges, said he suspects that the defense is leaning toward arguing some form of insanity. “From what I read, it sounds like it is overwhelming evidence,” Rubino said.