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Local Connections To Tucson Shooting

Your browser does not support this object. View the original here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtTWhNZ1aQI

Video published January 14, 2011 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Reporter Amita Sharma tells us about the local attorney, Judy Clarke, who will defend the alleged Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner. Plus, learn more about the San Diego-based U.S. District Court Judge who has been assigned to preside over the case.

Reporter Amita Sharma tells us about the local attorney, Judy Clarke, who will defend the alleged Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner. Plus, learn more about the San Diego-based U.S. District Court Judge who has been assigned to preside over the case.

Guest

Amita Sharma, KPBS News Reporter

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT NATIONAL ATTENTION WAS FOCUSED ON TUCSON WHERE PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS ATTENDING A MEMORIAL FOR THE VICTIMS OF SATURDAY'S DREADFUL SHOOTING. THE PRESIDENT SPOKE OF THE NEED FOR POSITIVE DIALOG FOLLOWING THE TRAGEDY.

BUT AS A TIME WHEN OUR DISCOURSE HAS BECOME SO SHARPLY POLARIZED, AT A TIME WHEN WE ARE FAR TOO EAGER TO LAY THE BLAME FOR ALL THAT AILS THE WORLD AT THE FEET OF THOSE WHO HAPPEN TO THINK DIFFERENTLY THAN WE DO, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE TALKING WITH EACH OTHER IN A WAY THAT HEALS, NOT IN A WAY THAT WOUNDS.

ALTHOUGH SAN DIEGO IS MILES AWAY FROM TUCSON, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CITIES BECAME TIGHTER WHEN TWO KEY PLAYERS IN THE LEGAL AFTERMATH OF THE TUCSON KILLINGS WERE NAMED THIS WEEK. BOTH THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR THE ACCUSED KILLER AND THE FEDERAL JUDGE WHO WILL PRE SIDE ARE FROM SAN DIEGO. FOR MORE ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY WE'RE JOINED BY KPBS REPORTER AMISA SHAWM. JUDY CLARK IS GOING TO DEFEND ACCUSED SHOOTER JARED LOUGHNER. WHAT OTHER HIGH PROFILE CASES HAS SHE BEEN INVOLVED IN?

QUITE A FEW. SHE REPRESENTED THE UNION I UNI BOMBER TED CAY GLIN SIGH AND ALSO HAD AS HER CLIENTS THE ATLANTA OLYMPICS BOMBER AND THE 20th CO-CONSPIRATOR IN THE SEPTEMBER 11th ATTACKS, AS WELL AS SUSAN SMITH, AND SHE WAS THE SOUTH CAROLINA MOTHER WHO MURDERED HER TWO SONS BACK IN 1994, SO OF THE MOST NOTICE TO NOTORIOUS AND CHALLENGING DEFENDANTS THAT THE US HAS HAD IN RECENT HISTORY, THEY HAVE BEEN HER CLIENTS.

INTERESTING. SO WE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT HER AND WE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE KINDS OF CASES SHE TAKES ON AND HOW SHE PRESENTS THOSE CASES, SO WHAT CAN --WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS SAY ABOUT THE WAY SHE MIGHT PRESENT LOUGHNER'S CASE?

JUDY CLARK'S EXPERTISE IS IN FEDERAL DEATH PENALTY CASES. SHE HAS A LOT OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA. NOW, NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE AS TO WHETHER THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WILL PURSUE THE DEATH PENALTY IN THE JARED LOUGHNER CASE, BUT IF IT DOES, SHE HAS A LOT OF EXPERTISE. SHE IS VERY EFFECTIVE IN THIS AREA. IN TERMS OF PEOPLE WHO KNOW HER AS CO-DEFENSE COUNCIL AND ON THE OPPOSITE END AS PROSECUTORS, BASICALLY SHE IS VERY THOUROGH AS A LAWYER, VERY OBJECTIVE, AND COMPASSIONATE. THEY ALSO SAY THAT THERE IS NOT A LOT OF FLASH, NOT A LOT OF BUZZERS WITH HER, AND THAT SEEMS TO PLAY WELL WITH JURORS.

SHE IS NOT THE KIND OF DEFENSE ATTORNEY WHO GOES OUT AND WRITES A HIGH PROFILE BOOK AFTERWARDS AND GOBBLES UP LOTS OF MONEY.

WE DON'T KNOW THAT YET.

THAT'S RIGHT. I MEAN, GENERALLY, THAT ISN'T HER PROFILE, BUT WHAT'S HER TRACK RECORD ON THESE CASES?

ACTUALLY VERY, VERY GOOD. IN THE CASES OF TED KAZINSKI AND ERIC RUDOLPH, AND THE ATLANTAING OLYMPIC BOMBER SHE WAS ABLE TO REACH A SETTLEMENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT ON THEIR BEHALF, SO BOTH OF THESE MEN PLEADED GUILTY, AVOIDED A TRIAL, AND THEY AVOIDED THE POSSIBILITY OF DEATH. IN THE CASE OF SUSAN SMITH, SHE WAS ABLE TO PERSUADE A JURY THAT SUSAN SMITH SUFFERED MENTAL ILLNESS AT THE TIME OF THOSE MURDERS AND THEY DID NOT PURSUE THE DEATH PENALTY AGAINST HER.

INTERESTING. GIVES US MAYBE A LITTLE HINT AS TO WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THIS TRIAL, BUT SAN DIEGO HAS ANOTHER CONNECTION, TOO, A US SCRICT JUDGE LARRY BURNS WHO IS BASED HERE IN SAN DIEGO, SCHEDULED TO HEAR THE CASE. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HIM?

WELL, JUDGE BURNS HAS PRESIDED OVER SEVERAL HIGH PROFILE TRIALS. HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR SENTENCING FORMER CONGRESSMAN RANDY DUKE CUNNINGHAM AND PRE SIDED OVER THE TRIAL OF DEFENSE CONTRACTOR BRENT WILKES CONVICTED OF DRIVING CUNNINGHAM AND HE ALSO HAS HANDLED SOME OF THE ION DRUG CARR TELL DAYSES AND IS INTERCONNECT AS A NO NONSENSE GUY WHO LIKES TO MOVE CASES FORWARD FAST. HE HAS HIGH EXPECTATIONS I THINK OF PROSECUTION AS WELL AS THE DEFENSE, AND WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THIS CASE AS WHEN HE WAS THE --WHEN HE WAS A FEDERAL PROSECUTOR IN THE US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, HE WAS ONE OF THE TOP PROSECUTORS THERE, AND THIS WAS AT A TIME WHEN DEFENSE COUNCIL IN THIS CASE, JUDY CLARK, WAS RUNNING THE FEDERAL DEFENDER'S OFFICE, SO THEY ACTUALLY HAD CASES AGAINST EACH OTHER.

THIS IS GOING TO BE VERY INTERESTING AND DON'T KNOW WHETHER THE TRIAL WILL BE HELD IN TUCSON OR SAN DIEGO OR ELSEWHERE BUT WE'LL BE WATCHING IT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

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