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High Profile Attorney to Represent Sgt. Robert Bales

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John Henry Browne has worked a number of high profile cases. The Seattle attorney defended the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy after he was taken into custody in the late 1970s. During the next decade, Browne was counsel for the convicted mass murderer Benjamin Ng. He also represented Michiel Oaks, who was convicted of the murder of the well-known dog trainer, Mark Stover in 2010. Even more recently, he represented Colton Harris-Moore, also known as the “Barefoot Bandit”.

Fittingly, Browne's latest case is also one of great prominence. It is a case that provoked protests in Afghanistan and captured attention around the world. Brown will be representing Robert Bales, the US Army staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on March 11. While the defense team will include lawyers from the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps, Browne will be responsible for making all strategic decisions.

Browne, who has handled about three other military cases during his career, initially met with Bales last week at Fort Leavenworth, where he is being detained. Browne emerged from meetings on Tuesday questioning the evidence against Bales and stating that he would gather his own evidence in Afghanistan. “The war's on trial. I'm not putting the war on trial. I'm not putting the war on trial, but the war is on trial,” said Browne.

Although he is no stranger to challenge, Browne is sure to recognize this case as one of his most demanding challenges yet. The 16 Afghans that Bales is suspected of shooting include nine children and three women and Bale's memory of the event is sketchy at best.

While Browne is not expected to pursue an insanity defense, it is possible that he will pursue one of diminished capacity for his client, who served three tours of duty in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan. According to Browne, his client suffered both physical and emotional trauma as a result of his time in Iraq.

Browne has more than a reputation for serving clients in tough cases. He has the experience and drive to effectively fight for his clients. After graduating from American University School of Law in the early 1970s, he was a Ford Foundation Fellow at Northwestern University School of Law. His legal career officially began as an assistant attorney general in Washington State. In 1975 he joined the public defender's office as the chief trial attorney and later went into private practice. He has spent nearly 40 years representing clients facing serious charges in both state and federal court and to date has tried more than 250 criminal cases to verdict.

He was listed as a Washington Superlawyer from 2003 to 2006 and again in 2008 and is routinely rated as a Most Preeminent Lawyer by Martindale Hubbel.

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law


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