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Vt. Law Prof Aids Kaczynski Defense

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Vt. Law Prof Aids Kaczynski Defense


Kaczynski, Theodore John, 1942-


Michael Mello, professor of law in Vermont, helped the attorneys representing the Unabomber. Coincidentally, one of the bombs sent by Kaczynski killed this same law professor's mentor, Judge Robert S. Vance of Birmingham, Alabama.


The Associated Press


HIST 298, University of Mary Washington


Tuesday, December 9, 1997


The materials in this online collection are held by Special Collections, Simpson Library, University of Mary Washington and are available for educational use. For this purpose only, you may reproduce materials without prior permission on the condition that you provide attribution of the source.


300 DPI




Unabomber criminal trial

Text Item Type Metadata


[Title] Vt. Law Prof Aids Kaczynski Defense

South Royalton – A Vermont Law School professor whose mentor was killed by a mail bomb is helping defend the man accused of being the Unabomber.

Michael Mello is helping attorneys for Ted Kaczynski fight the admissibility of the Montana hermit’s journals, which prosecutors said “are the backbone of the government’s case.”

Mello, who keeps a diary, contends a person’s diary should be given the same constitutional protection against self-incrimination as his spoken words, which are guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.

Since early May, Mello has had a half-dozen phone calls with Judy Clarke, Kaczynski’s lead lawyer.

Kaczynski is facing federal charges that he sent four bombs through the mail, killing two people.

Federal prosecutors in the trial in Sacramento, Calif., are seeking the death penalty.

Although the prosecution won an early round on Kaczynski’s diary, Mello expects his argument to prevail.

“My diary is an extension of my own mind and my own soul and my own heart,” Mello said.

“And the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says the government can’t extract information from my mind, my heart, and my soul.

“That’s what the prohibition against compelled self-incrimination means.”

Mello, 40, has taught at Vermont Law School since 1988.

He has spent much of his legal career defending death row inmates  in Florida and he clerked for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert S. Vance.

The Birmingham, Ala., judge was killed in 1989 by a bomb sent to his home.

“He was as close to a professional father as I’ve ever had,” Mello said. “I loved him.”

The man convicted of killing Vance, Walter Leroy Moody, was sentenced last year to death.

Moody also kept a diary, and the very pieces of the Kaczynski defense that Mello is helping to design could be used to save the man who killed the most important person in Mello’s life.

Mello’s “nightmare” is that his diary argument will be used to win Moody a new trial, and that at the trial, he’ll be acquitted.

But as a legal scholar whose professional practice focuses on capital cases, he feels he must answer compelling constitutional questions in death-penalty cases.

Original Format

Newspaper article

Contributor of the Digital Item

Childers, Daniel

Student Editor of the Digital Item

Van Doren, Jamie


Vt. Law Prof Aids Kaczynski Defense


The Associated Press , “Vt. Law Prof Aids Kaczynski Defense,” HIST298, accessed December 5, 2023, http://hist298.umwhistory.org/items/show/288.