U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Attorney Michael Novara has done a good job in the law, but now has a terrible job to do.

He is defending Robert Bowers, who is accused of gunning down 11 people and injuring six others at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Bowers has pleaded not guilty, even as he raged against Jews during and after the massacre.

Novara, a public defender, told reporters his client pleaded not guilty because it is "typical at this stage of the proceedings."

"Typical at This Stage"

Bowers has been charged in a 44-count indictment with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion, and other crimes. When asked if he understood the charges, Bowers shouted "Yes!"

He grinned at one point, shackled at the wrists and feet. He will be held without bail, pending a trial that will take three to four weeks.

Novara, for his part, would rather avoid the attention. If not for a stint as an investigator, he might not ever have been there.

Graduating cum laude from Brooklyn Law School, he began his legal career as a clerk to Judge Gustavo Diamond. He then worked as a litigation associate for three years at Cahill Gordon & Reined in New York City.

"Not a Typical Career"

Novara left private practice to return to the federal court, only to move to the Federal Public Defenders Office in Pittsburgh soon after. He started as an investigator, and became an assistant public defender in 1994.

He has been the First Assistant Public Defender there since 2004. The Bowers' case is his biggest, high-profile yet.

According to reports, it is the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history.

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