Judy Clarke (second from right) is seen walking toward the federal court building to defend shooting suspect Jared Loughner on June 29, 2011, in San Diego. Credit: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Susan Smith, the woman who drowned her children in 1994; Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber; Jared Loughner, the gunman in the 2011 attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona; and now Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found guilty in the Boston Marathon bombing – Judy Clarke’s represented them all.

But what do we know about the defense lawyer? She’s extremely private.

So what we do know, we’ve gathered through her high-profile cases defending those who risk capital punishment for their crimes. Clarke is fiercely opposed to the death penalty and has saved the lives of some of the most notorious criminals in recent history.

Author and investigative reporter Mark Bowden spent months digging into her background for this Vanity Fair story and now shares his insights on the elusive character that is Judy Clarke.


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Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.