The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals took just one day – and one sentence – to deny convicted white supremacist Dylann Roof’s request to fire his court-appointed lawyers, one of whom is Jewish and the other of whom is Indian.
“The court denies the motion for substitution of counsel on appeal,” said the order, filed Tuesday by 4th Circuit clerk Patricia Connor for the court.
Former U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said in an interview on Tuesday that 4th Circuit judges apparently thought Roof’s request to fire lawyers because of race and religious reasons was frivolous.
“The one sentence response from the court was more than the request by Roof deserved,” said Nettles, now in private practice in Columbia. “This young man is obviously very disturbed. His request is offensive and irrational.”
On Monday, Roof notified the 4th Circuit that he wanted to fire his appellate lawyers because one is Jewish and the other is Indian.
“My two currently appointed attorneys, Alexandra Yates and Apna Mirchandani, are Jewish and Indian, respectively,” wrote Roof to officials at the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In his letter, Roof added, “Because of my political views, which are arguably religious, it will be impossible for me to trust two attorneys that are my political and biological enemies.”
Roof’s hand-written motion was from himself, not any lawyer acting on his behalf.
Filed Monday in Richmond, Va., his request was mailed from the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where Roof is awaiting a death sentence in the 2015 mass killing at an historic African-American church in Charleston.
Evidence at the trial showed Roof had radicalized himself by viewing pro-Nazi and white supremacist Internet sites.
Last January, a federal jury recommended execution for Roof after a two-week trial in Charleston. He has expressed no remorse for the killings.
Roof has said that he killed African-Americans at Charleston’s historic Mother Emanuel AME church in 2015 in hopes of starting a race war in the U.S., a race war he hoped would result in a white supremacist government. He shot his victims during a Wednesday night Bible study.
Prominent Columbia defense attorney Jack Swerling said, “What the court was basically saying was that Roof’s request has no merit whatsoever. Someone’s race and religion has nothing to do with whether that lawyer should be discharged. If it wasn’t so serious, this would be almost comical.”