Jared Loughner Assigned Veteran Public Defender

By Minara El-Rahman on January 10, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner will be assigned one of the best public defenders in the country. Veteran federal public defender Judy Clarke has been assigned to represent Jared Loughner in federal court, according to NPR.

Judy Clarke, known informally by many as the "Unabomber lawyer," will be appointed to defend Jared Loughner against five federal felonies that include: the attempted murders of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and two of her staffers, and the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords' aide Gabriel Zimmerman, the Arizona Republic reports.

Jared Loughner could face the federal death penalty. Federal law requires that if the death penalty is sought by prosecutors, an attorney with death penalty experience be assigned to defend the defendant. 

Judy Clarke, who has represented clients such as the "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, the Atlanta Olympics bomber, and Susan Smith, has extensive experience with federal death penalty cases. She is currently in private practice, but she collaborates with the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel, according to NPR.

Judy Clarke has been recommended to represent Jared Loughner by the public defender's office, ABA Journal reports. Jared Loughner is scheduled to appear in court this afternoon.

Judy Clarke appears to have her work cut out for her as investigators revealed that they have located a safe that contains an envelope with Loughner's handwriting that states, "I planned ahead, "my assassination," and "Gabrielle Giffords," CNN reports. They also found a letter from Gabrielle Giffords thanking Jared Loughner for attending a 2007 political event like the one where the shooting took place.

If appointed as expected, Judy Clarke will be by Jared Loughner's side when he faces the federal charges against him. It is also possible that impending state charges could be consolidated in federal court, depending on how a judge rules. 

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