Washington sniper defence team takes on two students

A PAIR of US aw students have joined the defence team of Washington sniper Lee Malvo,who has been charged in one of the state s most prolific mass murder cases.

Washington and Lee University students Lee Goebes and Ida-Gaye Warburton are members of the law school s legal aid clinic,the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, which was established in 1976
after the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.

Professor Roger Groot, director of the Clearinghouse, which takes on 16 students a year for a two-year stretch, said the Malvo case was one of around 26 that students were working on.Depending on the type of case (there are 14 different varieties of capital murder in Virginia),students can be expected to put in 90 hours of work a week in addition to their legal studies.

Even the most experienced individual attorney will only ever see a multiple murder case once every three or four years.But here we see four or five a year so we can generate a lot of experience,commented Groot.

Unlike other death row clinics,which concentrate on appeals,students in the Clearinghouse only help at trials.This state is extraordinarily conservative,said Groot.The chance of success at an appeal are very close to zero.Success can only really be had at the trial.
We re very clear that the clinic is not about opposition to the death penalty conceptually.We [exist] to ensure that someone who s charged with a capital offence has the best representation they can get.

Malvo: trial is all-important, as appeals dont really work in Washington