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Defense lawyer Judy Clarke receives Courageous Advocacy award

Judy Clarke, Furman Class of 1974, accepts award from American College of Trial Lawyers.

Judy Clarke, a 1974 Furman University psychology graduate and lawyer known for her stance against the death penalty, has received the Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy from the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The award honors trial lawyers who have persevered in the pursuit of an important cause despite substantial personal danger, fear, unpopularity, opposition or other extreme difficulties. The award is the highest honor conferred on a single individual by the College. In its 53-year history, the award has been extended previously only 14 times.

Clarke has represented some of the most notorious defendants in American history including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombers; Jared Loughner, the gunman who severely injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others; Eric Rudolph, the 1996 Olympic Park bomber who bombed an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala.; Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; and Susan Smith, the mother who drowned her two sons.

Clarke began her career as a criminal defense lawyer in the late 1970s, when female trial lawyers were in short supply and female criminal defense lawyers were even fewer. She has served as an Executive Director of Federal Defender offices in Southern California and Eastern Washington and Idaho, taught at Washington and Lee University School of Law, and now practices in San Diego with the firm of Clarke Johnston Thorp & Rice.

In addition to arguing two cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, she has served as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and as faculty at The National Criminal Defense College.

The award was created in 1964 and re-named in 2008 for Griffin Bell. Bell was an attorney and judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He served as the United States Attorney General during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, and was president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, 1985-1986.

For more information, contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

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