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Wed May 1, 2013, 11:47 AM

Judy Clarke, the Defense Lawyer Appointed to Defend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

by Michael Daly May 1, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

She saved the Unabomber, Jared Loughner, and Susan Smith from execution. Now the quiet defender who sees the humanity in monsters is taking Tsarnaev’s case.

Her colleagues say Judy Clarke will begin by working her way in the mind of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev just as she did with the murderous mom Susan Smith, deranged mass shooter Jared Loughner, al Qaeda fanatic Zacarias Moussaoui, abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

The 60-year-old woman, who has been called the most low-profile high-profile lawyer of all time, will pair that insight with her formidable legal knowledge and courtroom mastery in an effort to save him from the executioner, just as she did some of the most reviled killers in recent history.

“In addition to being a brilliant lawyer in terms of knowing the law and persuading a jury, perhaps her most impressive quality is her ability to connect and understand individuals that the rest of the world despises,” says her friend and fellow defense attorney Laurie Shanks. “She is really able not only to gain their trust but to make their actions understandable to others.”

Shanks notes: “It’s easy to look at someone who’s done something really horrible and see a monster. It is very difficult to look at monsters like that and see a human, and Judy is able to do that. You look at Jared Loughner and say, ‘Oh my God, that guy’s crazy,’ look at Susan Smith, ‘How despicable!’ You look at the guy in Boston, ‘How could you kill an 8-year-old?’ To be able to look at them and see their humanity is really a very unusual ability and unique ... not that she condones or expects others to condone their actions.”

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