Education: Furman University, B.A.; University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D.

Primary Practice:
Federal Criminal Defense,
White Collar and Non-White Collar

Judy Clarke

After receiving her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law, Ms. Clarke joined the Federal Defenders of San Diego as a trial attorney.  Within 5 years, she took the helm of that organization, and then served as the Executive Director, while continuing to try cases in the federal court in San Diego.  Shortly after leaving the San Diego Federal Defenders, she was recruited to lead the recently established Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, and practiced before the federal courts in the Eastern District of Washington and the District of Idaho for almost 10 years before returning to her home in San Diego.  She is a nationally recognized trial lawyer, who has also argued many appellate cases, including two cases before the United States Supreme Court.


Ms. Clarke has been trial counsel in a number of high profile cases around the country:

  • State of South Carolina v. Susan Smith (Union, South Carolina)
  • United States v. Theodore Kaczynski (Sacramento, California)
  • United States v. Buford Furrow (Los Angeles, California)
  • United States v. Eric Rudolph (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • United States v. Jared Loughner (Tucson, Arizona)
  • United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Boston, Massachusetts)

She is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a professional association of trial lawyers from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico “who have demonstrated the very highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism and collegiality.” https://www.actl.com/ 

Ms. Clarke is a Past President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is included in “The Best Lawyers in America” publication, and has an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell®.

In 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals honored her with the Circuit’s John Frank Award recognizing “a lawyer or judge whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law.”