Judy Clarke

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Not to be confused with Judith Alice Clark.
Judy Clare Clarke
Born 1952 (age 61–62)
Asheville, North Carolina
Education Furman University (B.A.)
University of South Carolina School of Law (J.D.)
Occupation Criminal Defense Attorney
Spouse(s) Thomas H. Speedy Rice
Parents Harry Wilson & Patsy Clarke

Judy Clare Clarke (born 1952) is an American criminal defense attorney who has represented several high-profile defendants.

Family & education[edit]

Judy Clare Clarke is the daughter of Harry Wilson Clarke and Patsy Clarke.[1] Patsy Clarke was the daughter of a Massachusetts movie theater manager who moved the family to Asheville when Patsy was a teen.[1] Her parents met while in college together.[1] Clarke grew up in Asheville, North Carolina.[1] Growing up, she had three other siblings: Candy, Mark, and one other.[2] Her father was a civic leader in Asheville and president of Western Carolina Industries employer association.[2] Her mother spent much of her time raising her four children and occasionally acted in regional theater productions.[2][3] Clarke's parents were conservative republicans.[1] They would host John Birch Society meetings in their living room and were in favor of impeaching Earl Warren.[1] Her father campaigned for Senator Jesse Helms.

From about the sixth or seventh grade, Clarke wanted to be a lawyer or a judge.[1] As a child, her mother taught her the Constitution and it stuck for her.[1] Moreover, Clarke regularly argued her opinions on current events at the big table her father installed in the family’s kitchen.[1]

For college, Clarke studied psychology at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She graduated from Furman in 1974.[4]

In 1987, her father, Harry, was killed in the crash of a private plane near Asheville.

High-profile clients[edit]

According to the Associated Press, "[s]he is one of the top lawyers in the country for defendants facing prominent death penalty cases, having represented clients such as 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski and Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph. She has a reputation for working out plea deals that spare defendants the death penalty, as was the case for Rudolph and Kaczynski."[5] Clarke has also represented convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and child murderer Susan Smith, among others.[6] However, contrary to claims made by the Associated Press, Clarke was not involved in the legal representation of terrorist Timothy McVeigh, the executed perpetrator of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.[7] She has helped several high-profile defendants avoid capital punishment.[8] She's considered a "master strategist in death penalty cases" and opposes capital punishment.[8] Clarke returned to South Carolina the $82,944 fee approved by the trial judge for her defense of Susan Smith, so that the funds could be used to defend other indigent defendants charged with crimes.[8]

On January 10, 2011, the United States district court in Phoenix, Arizona assigned Clarke as defense counsel to Jared Lee Loughner, the perpetrator of the January 8, 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting.[6] The Phoenix Public Defenders' Office had requested that Clarke be retained in order to allow Loughner to receive competent counsel without the possibility of a community-wide conflict of interest arising from proceedings against him for his alleged role in the shooting.[9] On August 7, 2012, Clarke brokered a deal sparing Loughner's life in exchange for a guilty plea to 19 counts, including the wounding of then congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. On April 29, 2013, Clarke was appointed to the defense team working with suspected Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.[10]

Other associations[edit]

Clarke has previously served as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.[11][12] She also serves as a Professor of Practice at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Daly, Michael. "Judy Clarke, the Defense Lawyer Appointed to Defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev". Daily Beast. 
  2. ^ a b c Hewitt, Bill. "A Mother's Anger: Honoring a Son Dead of AIDS, a North Carolina Woman Takes on Jesse Helms". People. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Morrison, Clarke. "Boston bombing suspect's lawyer is death-penalty foe". USA Today. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  4. ^ FU in the News. "Judy Clarke for the Defense". Furman.edu. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Billeaud, Jacques (2011-01-24) Jared Loughner Pleads Not Guilty In Arizona Shooting, Associated Press
  6. ^ a b "Judy Clarke, who defended the 'Unabomber,' will defend Jared Lee Loughner". AOL News. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  7. ^ "Correction: Congresswoman Shot Stories". MSNBC. 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  8. ^ a b c Glaberson, William (January 10, 2011). "A Defender Who's no Stranger to High -Profile Cases". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  9. ^ "Famed 'Unabomber' lawyer Judy Clarke may defend Tucson shooting suspect". New York Daily News. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  10. ^ "Court appoints Jared Loughner's defense attorney for accused Boston bomber". Politico. 2013-04-29. 
  11. ^ Judy Clarke Elected First Public Defender President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, August 13, 1996
  12. ^ "Judy Clarke - Professor of Practice". Washington and Lee University. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  13. ^ O'Neill, Ann (2011-01-12). "Lawyer keeps even the most loathed criminals off death row". CNN.com. Turner Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on 2011-01-12. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 

External links[edit]