The bar lost a great advocate on Friday with the death of Susan Jordan, 67, who died in a plane crash in Utah. Jordan pioneered the battered women’s syndrome defense and represented controversial clients ranging from the Symbionese Liberation Army to the Black Panthers.
Jordan’s storied career came to an end when the two-seater plane hit a power line. It was being flown by a longtime friend, John Austin, a health care executive.
Jordan was also a pilot with more than 3,500 hours of flight experience.
Jordan’s famous cases included the acquittal of Inez Garcia in 1977 after Jordan argued that Garcia killed a man who raped her in self-defense.
In 1978, Jordan represented Emily Harris in the Patricia Hearst kidnapping case and later represented former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olsen on charges of conspiracy to bomb police officers. She was often called a “movement” lawyer and denounced as a liberal activist. Regardless of disagreement that some may have with her views or politics, even her critics should recognize a courageous and brilliant litigator in Susan Jordan.
While many attorneys avoid unpopular clients or prosecute the accused to the acclaim of the public, there are a few attorneys who step forward to bear the burden of representing those people most hated or feared by society. Jordan was one such lawyer who guaranteed that every person is entitled to a fair trial and zealous representation. She is a credit to our profession and her loss will felt greatly by both her admirers and her clients.
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