Death penalty defense guru Judy Clarke on Monday asked a Boston federal judge to add another death penalty specialist to the defense team for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who faces 17 charges that could carry the death penalty.

Clarke, of San Diego's Clarke & Rice, is helping federal public defender for the District of Massachusetts Miriam Conrad defend Tsarnaev, assisted by two of Conrad’s assistants, Timothy Watkins and William Fick. Clarke wants additional help from Washington and Lee University School of Law professor David Bruck, who directs the school's death penalty defense clinic.

Her motion argued that the “extraordinary nature of this case requires an additional death-qualified lawyer.”

“Counsel expect that the amount of discovery that this investigation will produce will be truly massive. Thus even were this not a potentially capital case, the magnitude of the task confronting Mr. Tsarnaev’s attorneys would be daunting,” Clarke wrote.

She argued that the assistance she’s getting from the public defender office “does not disentitle her client to additional court-appointed co-counsel under federal law.” She cited federal law as calling for two attorneys to represent a death penalty defendant and more “if necessary for adequate representation.”

Tsarnaev, 19, pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges last week. He’s accused of helping to plant two bombs that killed three and injured more than 260 during the April 15 event. He allegedly acted with his brother Tamerlan, 26, who was fatally wounded during an April 19 shootout with police while the two were on the run.

The pair also allegedly killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier while evading arrest beginning on April 18.

In April, District of Massachusetts Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler granted Conrad’s office’s request to add Clarke to the team, but denied a bid to add Bruck.

The new motion claimed that Bruck’s help was necessary “in light of this indictment.”

According to the motion, Bruck has specialized in defending death penalty cases for 33 of his 37 years in practice and was lead counsel in more than 100 death penalty cases; six of his seven capital arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court were successful.

His university biography says that he and Clarke were co-counsel for Susan Smith, convicted in 1995 of drowning her two young children the previous year. Smith was sentenced to life in prison instead of death.

Tsarnaev’s indictment includes various charges that he caused deaths including:

  • The murder of Collier
  • Use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy.
  • Bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy.
  • Malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy.
  • Use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

He faces additional firearms charges arising from an April 18 carjacking allegedly committed with his brother plus charges for interference with commerce by threats or violence and aiding and abetting.

Bruck, Clarke and Conrad did not respond to requests for comment. The Boston U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.


Sheri Qualters can be contacted at squalters@alm.com.