Twenty-two-year-old Jared Loughner is certainly one of the most hated humans to have ever taken a breath of American air. And a wager that he’ll be found guilty of his heinous crimes would probably be a safe bet. If fact, he’ll probably be sentenced to death…if he’s not found to have a mental impairment that will prevent him from standing trial. But this story is a long way from over.
First things first. Enter the attorney who’s job will be to defend a man who killed six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll, and wounded fourteen others (among the wounded was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords).
The attorney dubbed “The One Woman Dream Team,” Judy Clarke, has been named to represent Loughner in federal court, and she’s no stranger to tough death penalty cases. Some of her more well-known cases include, Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Eric Rudolph (the Olympics bomber), and Zacarias Moussaoui (9/11 conspirator). Clarke also represented Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother who drowned her two young boys.
Judy Clarke is the perfect attorney for cases such as the aforementioned, since she is a fierce opponent of the death penalty. Her passions surely drive her will to triumph, and triumph she has. Rudolph, Smith, and Kaczynski all dodged death row.
Clarke’s latest client, loughner, has been charged with two counts of murder (Judge Roll and Gabriel Zimmerman, a staff member of congresswoman Giffords). He has also been charged with two counts of attempted murder and a single charge of attempting to assassinate a member of congress. Since these crimes were committed against federal employees, Loughner will answer to the charges in a federal court somewhere within the United States, in Arizona if at all possible, but not likely in any courtroom near the shooting scene, or near Judge Roll’s court (the entire federal bench in Arizona has recused itself due to close ties to Judge Roll.
The state of Arizona has yet to issue warrants, but officials, including Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik and Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, have both stated that numerous state charges will be filed. LaWall says it’s important that justice be served for all of the victims, not just federal employees. The state charges could include one for each and every person (approximately 150 people were in attendance of the meeting) who were placed in the line of fire.
It’s important to note that not all attorneys are permitted to appear and plead cases before all courts. In fact, many attorneys who’ve been admitted to the state bar never appear in federal court. To do so, special requirements must be met.
Also, federal rules often differ from state rules of law. Will those different rules of law cause complications for Loughner’s defense?
Sure, this one’s an open and shut case since Loughner pulled the trigger, many times, in front of many witnesses. And without a doubt Loughner’s sanity, state of mind, etc. is going to be the root of his defense, and his sanity may very well be the single factor that spares his life. But it may not keep him from going to prison. And this is where the differences in state and federal rules muddy the waters.
The state of Arizona does NOT allow a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity. Federal law does. Instead, Arizona’s options are Guilty, Not Guilty, or Guilty But Insane, and a Guilty But Insane verdict means a convicted person may be held at a state mental institution, BUT, if doctors determine their sanity has been restored at some point, they will then be transferred to prison to serve the sentence for their crime.
This time, no matter the direction this case takes, Defense Attorney Judy Clarke has her hands full. I think her record of winning death penalty cases is about to take a hit because prosecutors and law enforcement officials are coming after this guy, hard.
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