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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Self Styled Freedom Fighter Receives New Trial

NYTimes.com: It has been a quarter-century since a group of self-styled freedom fighters, including Judith A. Clark, carried out an armored-car robbery in Rockland County, N.Y.

On Sept. 21, a federal judge overturned admitted participant Ms. Clark’s conviction, in a decision that held that she effectively had no legal counsel at her trial in 1983, when she chose to represent herself and then boycotted some of the proceedings.

“We in the law enforcement community are pretty outraged that this has transpired,” said Robert W. Van Cura, chief of the South Nyack police department. “The trial judge at the time went to great lengths to warn her about the dangers of self-representation. She clearly understood the proceedings.”

But friends and relatives of Ms. Clark were overjoyed by the decision. They and her lawyers say that since her conviction, Ms. Clark, the daughter of a onetime Communist newspaper editor and a prominent marketing executive, has become a new person, accepting responsibility for her actions and forging a strong relationship with her daughter, who was a baby at the time of the holdup.

“She’s a changed woman,” said Leon Friedman, one of Ms. Clark’s lawyers, who is a law professor at Hofstra University. “She is very sorry for what happened. She realizes what a terrible mess she made. She has taken all kinds of constructive steps in her life, and she’s a different human being than the one who took part in those terrible events.” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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