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Dylann Roof’s capital trial and double jeopardy, no privacy in one’s diary, and standby counsel

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Virulently and violently racist Dylann Roof hit the jackpot by getting David Bruck assigned as the lead trial lawyer in his federal hate crime/South Carolina church massacre trial. Roof has squandered that away by reducing Mr. Bruck to standby counsel during the capital sentencing trial phase, as Roof elevates his preference to make his unfiltered racist stand to the jury and thus also the press and the world, over fighting to rot with life without parole rather than lethal injection.

David Bruck, though, is not merely sitting by like a potted plant. He is helping Roof draft motions during the sentencing phase, and has asked the judge to let him resume defending Roof, which contradicts Roof’s preference to represent himself at the capital sentencing phase of his trial.

Whether or not Roof knew it while penning his jailhouse diary, the prosecution obtained his diary from a cell search and has used it to maximum advantage at the guilt-innocence and sentencing phases of trial, whereby Roof therein confirms no remorse for his murders and his racist conviction that he did the right thing in purportedly taking a stand for white people at the expense of his losing his liberty and now not even enjoying the simple pleasure of such activities as going to the movies and eating enjoyable food.

Did Roof have a legal leg to stand on to exclude his private diary from trial, and to argue that issue on appeal? Jail inmates have little privacy. Their outgoing and incoming mail is monitored, and their discussions by phone and in person with anyone other than their lawyer are recorded and available for review by prosecutors and law enforcement.

As Roof’s federal capital sentencing trial phase proceeds, South Carolina state prosecutors salivate over proceeding to trial against Roof for his same massacre. Unfortunately, the separate sovereigns doctrine likely will give Roof no mileage to argue a double jeopardy violation for being prosecuted both at the federal and state court levels for his same massacre.

Dylann Roof was one twisted person to commit this massacre. Sadly, he is not the only person willing and capable to risk lethal injection to carry out such a heinous and hateful crime. Does that mean that I would decline to defend a violent racist against criminal charges, or that I am any the less totally opposed to capital punishment? No. It does mean that I still recognize how sickly depraved such crimes are.