The US argues that the Supreme Court should not rehear the Dylann Roof case

Dylann Roof sentenced to death for racist massacre at Emanuel AME Church in 2015

Dylann Roof’s death sentence and conviction for the 2015 racial slayings of nine members of a black South Carolina church should be upheld and not merit review by the U.S. Supreme Court, federal lawyers wrote in a filing Wednesday.

Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice argued in the 39-page editorial that Roof “fails to identify any substantial disagreement in the lower courts” about how his legal representation played out at trial.

The pension came in response to a request by Roof’s lawyers for judges to take over his case, asking the court earlier this year to decide how to handle disputes over evidence related to mental illness between the defendants and their lawyers .

Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

When a defendant who has been found competent to stand trial and his attorneys “disagree over whether to introduce mitigating evidence that portrays him as mentally ill, who has the final say?” Roof’s appellate team wrote in its petition in February.

But on Wednesday, noting that “the ultimate goal of his defense was to avoid the death penalty,” Justice Department lawyers argued that Roof “had no right to control his counsel’s strategy for achieving that goal by dictating the mitigating evidence that could introduce .’

Roof’s self-representation and desire to block any evidence that could potentially portray him as mentally ill — even if it would have helped him avoid the death penalty — was a sticking point in his case.

During the sentencing phase of his death penalty trial, Roof fired his legal team and chose to represent himself. That move, his appeals lawyers wrote, successfully prevented jurors from hearing evidence about his mental health, “under the delusion” that “white nationalists would save him from prison — but only, strangely, if he maintained his mental disabilities out of public record”.

Roof made his decision, his team argued, “after the district court told him that counsel could introduce evidence portraying him as mentally ill over his objection.”

Dylann Roof enters a courtroom at the Charleston County Judicial Center to plead guilty to murder charges on April 10, 2017, in Charleston, SC (Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File)

Dylann Roof enters a courtroom at the Charleston County Judicial Center to plead guilty to murder charges on April 10, 2017, in Charleston, SC (Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File)

But there is a disconnect, his lawyers argued, between how such cases are handled in the 4th Circuit versus other jurisdictions, where “the vast majority of state and federal courts hold otherwise, leaving this deeply personal choice to a defendant.”

In their brief, government lawyers wrote that the appellate court “correctly determined” that Roof “was not entitled to the assistance of counsel when presenting mitigation evidence,” adding that “Any conflict on this issue in the lower courts is very far away. more limited than that suggested by petitioner and does not warrant review by this Court.”

Roof, now 28, opened fire during the closing prayer of a Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, firing dozens of bullets into the crowd. He was 21 at the time.

Last year, a panel of appellate judges unanimously upheld Roof’s conviction and death sentence and issued a scathing rebuke of Roof’s crimes, which the justices wrote “qualify him for the harshest punishment a just society can impose.” .

If he fails in his immediate appeal, Roof — now on federal death row at a maximum-security prison in Terre Haute, Indiana — could file what is known as a 2255 appeal, a request that the trial court review the constitutionality of the conviction and his sentence. He could also seek a presidential pardon.

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