Although I didn't attend last Wednesday, the Sacramento Federal Bar Association and the Eastern District Historical Society hosted what I heard was an excellent presentation on the Theodore Kaczynski "Unabomber" case at the federal courthouse, moderated by Judge Shubb.
Thanks to guest blogger AFD Tim Zindel for providing this recap:
Last Wednesday, Judge Shubb and the Eastern District Historical Society recalled another celebrated Eastern District case, U.S.. v. Theodore Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber. The program featuring four key players will be broadcast on C-SPAN.
FBI agent Terry Turchie led FBI's UNABOM task force when, in late 1995, David Kaczynski read the Unabomber manifesto, recognized his brother in it, and led the Bureau to Kaczynski's tiny cabin in Montana. Gary Wright, a Salt Lake City man, remembered lifting a piece of lumber left outside his computer store in 1987. It detonated and blew him across the parking lot, leaving him scarred by hundreds of bits of shrapnel. He was the Unabomber's 11th victim.
Former Eastern District AUSA Steve Lapham and former Federal Defender Quin Denvir squared off at the aborted trial. Both recalled the impact of pretrial rulings by Judge Garland Burrell, who attended the program but did not participate. Denvir had challenged the search of the cabin, which was largely premised on David Kaczynski's suspicion and on similarities between language in the manifesto and in letters his brother had written to family years before. Denvir said that if FBI had found a pound of marijuana instead of evidence that Kaczynski was the Unabomber, he believes the evidence would have been ordered suppressed.
Lapham knew the evidence against Kaczynski was unshakeable - FBI had found the Unabomber's typewriter and a cache of unique trigger devices identical to those used in the bombs. But when Kaczynski learned before trial that his lawyers planned to portray him as mentally ill, he asked to represent himself. Judge Burrell deemed his request untimely, which put the expected guilty verdict - and the death penalty - at risk. On the eve of trial, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized the government to settle for a life sentence, but only on condition that Kaczynski waive appeal of the ruling on his search motion. Kaczynski pled.
A link to the C-SPAN broadcast will be posted at the Historical Society's website, EDCA court history, where you can also find a link to the Society's earlier program on the trial of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who was convicted in the District of a 1975 attempt to shoot President Gerald Ford in Capitol Park.