White supremacist Dylann Roof says that he has something of a problem on his hands: he has court-appointed counsel who happen to be Jewish and Indian. He has asked the court to replace Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani in his appeal of his death sentence for the massacre of nine people in the Emmanuel AME Church during a Bible study in 2015. Roof appears to believe that the right of counsel includes the right to white counsel. It doesn’t. The court should not be a vehicle for racial or religious discrimination to cater to the wishes of a homicidal fanatic. More importantly, that is the view of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Roof sent a handwritten note to the court to say that he cannot work with a Jew or an Indian:
“My two currently appointed attorneys, Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani, are Jewish and Indian, respectively. It is therefore quite literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests relating to my case.”
Roof, who was an out-of-work high school drop out when he murdered these innocent people, has a long and troubled history with counsel. At trial, Roof took over his own defense and refused to follow the advice of appointed counsel — who he promised to murder if he got out of jail.
As with his current counsel, his trial counsel David Bruck never let his client’s disgusting views and conduct distract him from his legal obligations. He fought to get the court to allow him to argue against the death penalty over Roof’s objections. The court correctly allowed Roof to ruin his own case. Roof in the meantime attacked Bruck — the man who tried to save his life — because he was also Jewish.
Roof is now precisely where he fought hard to be: on death row. History will show that when the public was clamoring for his death, it was a team of Jewish and minority lawyers who fought tirelessly to save his pathetic, hateful life.