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Area lawyer hired in clinic killing

Published Apr. 13, 1993|Updated Oct. 9, 2005

The frustrating search for an attorney for Michael F. Griffin, the man charged with killing an abortion doctor, ended with his hiring of Clearwater defense lawyer Patrick Doherty.

The lawyer helping Griffin with his search said he was inundated with faxes, letters and phone calls from publicity-seeking lawyers across the state after he announced in court last week that Griffin still had not found a lawyer.

"I don't think any client would be interested in having an attorney who's more interested in the TV cameras than in the client," Pensacola lawyer Joe Scarborough said Monday.

Doherty agreed to take the Pensacola anti-abortion protester's case after a 3-hour meeting with Griffin and Scarborough on Saturday.

Final details, such as Doherty's fee, must be worked out with Griffin's father, Doherty said.

Scarborough, the lawyer for Griffin's family, said Griffin has had a difficult time finding someone to represent him because of the volatile abortion issue and the fear of possible personal danger to anyone representing Griffin.

"There were some who were concerned about physical harm coming to them if they had to do something that would offend extremists," Scarborough said. "Unfortunately, this issue seems to produce extremists on both sides, and some people just don't want to spend the summer having people yelling at them in the courtroom."

Doherty said outside issues would not be of concern to him during the case.

"I'm only representing an individual, not endorsing or opposing any societal movements," Doherty said. "I'll leave the public policy to the people who are in office and the people who put them there."

Griffin, 31, is charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted of the March 10 slaying of David Gunn, who was shot as he arrived at a clinic amid an anti-abortion protest in Pensacola.

Afterward, Griffin surrendered.

The 47-year-old doctor, who performed abortions at several clinics in Florida and Alabama, was shot several times in the chest with what appeared to be a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, police said.

Scarborough got Doherty's name through a contact in Tampa and approached Doherty.

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