Accused Bomber's Defense Team Gets Renowned Death Penalty Lawyer

Accused Bomber's Defense Team Gets Renowned Death Penalty Lawyer (ABC News)

Judy Clarke's roster of former clients includes Tucson shooter Jared Loughner and unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Now, she can add suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as she is the newest member of his defense team.

Clarke is a prominent San Diego attorney known for brokering life sentences for clients and avoiding the death penalty.

She has done so for Kaczynsk, Loughner and Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph among others. Clarke also represented Susan Smith, the South Carolina mom who was convicted of murdering her three children. She was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison and will be eligible for parole in 2024.

Clarke's appointment was approved Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler, according to the Associated Press. Bowler denied the defense's request for a second death penalty attorney.

Clarke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FULL COVERAGE: Boston Marathon Bombings

Tsarnaev, 19, is facing the possibility of the death penalty for his alleged role in two bombings near the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three people and left more than 260 wounded.

Tsarnaev has been charged with one count of using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property. The Justice Department released a statement indicating that the charges could carry the death penalty or life in prison.

Charges were filed against Tsarnaev at a makeshift courtroom at the side of his hospital bed. He only spoke one word, "no," when asked if he could afford an attorney.

As a result, he will be represented by one of the most experienced and well respected public defenders in the country, Miriam Conrad.

Conrad heads the Federal Public Defender Office in Boston and her resume includes defending "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in 2001 for trying to blow up a Paris to Miami jetliner.

"She is excellent, tough, tenacious and wise," said Tamar R. Birckhead, now a University of North Carolina law professor who worked with Conrad for four years, including on the Reid case.

Conrad and several other attorneys from her office were listed in court documents as the team representing Tsarnaev. Among them was William S. Fick, who was present at Tsaraev's only hearing so far.

Conrad, 56, has led the Federal Public Defender's Office since 2005. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she has defended a number of high profile terrorism cases.

In addition to defending Reid, Conrad represented represented Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi ancestry who was sentenced to 17 years after he was found guilty of plotting an attack on the Capitol Building and the Pentagon.

Fick, an assistant in the office, is a graduate of Yale Law, who turned down an offer on Wall Street to become a public defender.

"This is a high quality team," said Nancy Gertner, a judge and Harvard law professor for whom Fick worked as a clerk. "It puts to lie the notion that public defenders are lesser lawyers. This is an enormously talented group."

Calls to the defender's office for comment were not returned.