Death for Tsarnaev mars Judy Clarke’s perfect record

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Judy Clarke after the verdict was read.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Judy Clarke after the verdict was read. –REUTERS/Jane Flavell Collin

Judy Clarke’s perfect record is gone.

The defense attorney, a specialist in keeping killers off death row, suffered her first loss with the death sentence handed down upon Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

She’s saved the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski; Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber; Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the men behind the September 11 attacks; and Jared Lee Loughner, who shot then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and killed six others.

Not the Boston Marathon bomber.

Clarke, who avoids reporters and publicity, did the same when she left Moakley Federal Courthouse on Friday. None of her defense team stopped to talk after the verdict, either.


“It was him,’’ she told jurors in her opening statement, acknowledging that Tsarnaev was responsible for the bombings, along with his brother, Tamerlan. She didn’t ask jurors to acquit him.

But the 12 jurors didn’t believe Clarke’s argument that Tsarnaev wouldn’t have turned violent if not for his older brother. Only three agreed that Tsarnaev “acted under the influence’’ of Tamerlan.

Only once before has Clarke gone to trial in a capital case. When Susan Smith put her two young boys in their car seats, drove them into a lake and walked away, Clarke went to South Carolina to defend her.

She convinced the jury that Smith made horrible, irrational decisions only after a lifetime of pain and suffering. Smith received a life sentence.

Clarke sought a plea deal for Tsarnaev, but the government refused.

In the end, she could still win: There will be years of appeals.

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