Dylann Roof Wants Defense Team Back / HB2's Post-Election Fate
Accused mass murderer Dylann Roof wanted to represent himself in the Charleston church shooting trial, but now wants his defense team back. Two lawyers discuss the Roof case. And two Charlotte lawmakers on either side of HB2 look at what happens to the controversial law following the November election.
The Constitution gives defendants the right to represent themselves in court. It's a right that Dylann Roof sought to exercise in his trial for the Charleston church slayings. Despite calling it an "unwise" move, the judge in Roof's federal death penalty trial granted Roof's request, sidelining the high-caliber defense team that had been appointed to the case.
But on Sunday, Roof asked the judge to reinstate his defense team, but only for the guilt or innocence phase of the trial. Roof said he still wants to represent himself when the trial reaches sentencing.
Other high-profile murder trials have seen defendants represent themselves, including serial killer Ted Bundy. Charlotte native James Coleman represented Bundy during the appellate phase of Bundy's case in the 1980s, and says Bundy's self-representation "more than anything else" guaranteed his death sentence.
Coleman, now a professor of law at Duke University, says of Roof's initial decision that "there's (nothing) good that could come out of it" for him.
Charlotte defense attorney Noell Tin says self-representation can complicate matters in court. "I think judges feel like they have to work a lot harder to make sure the trial runs smoothly," Tin says.
James Coleman, professor of law, Duke University School of Law; director, Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility
Noell Tin, founder, managing partner, Tin Fulton Walker and Owen
House Bill 2 appeared to have dragged down Gov. Pat McCrory in the November election, but other more-vocal supporters of the controversial legislation were able to sidestep the blowback to the law and win re-election to the General Assembly.
In the run-up to the election, some Republican lawmakers called for changes to the law. There were also efforts to hammer out a compromise between the legislature and the Charlotte City Council, but that met resistance from city leaders.
Now that the GOP has maintained its super-majority in Raleigh, what are the chances of HB2 getting a second look? Scott Stone, a Mecklenburg County Republican who was appointed to the state House this year and was elected in his own right this fall, says any compromise on the matter has to start at Charlotte city hall.
Democrat John Autry, a Charlotte City Council member, is now headed to the state House and has criticized the Republican legislature for putting the burden for any compromise on the city.
John Autry, Charlotte City Council, elected to North Carolina House District 100 in November
Scott Stone, North Carolina House District 105