CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Attorneys for accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof say they will not try to move his federal trial out of Charleston.
In a court filing Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney David Bruck says it would be irresponsible to say now that he might not ask that the trial be moved in the future. Bruck says he is confident an impartial jury for the November trial can be selected from Charleston area.
But he says if that can't be done, the defense might be forced to reconsider its position on moving the trial.
Roof is facing a possible death penalty in the trial that is scheduled for Nov. 7.
Bruck filed the motion in response to a prosecution motion requesting a jury be selected from a pool that encompassed the entire state because the defense stated in a motion that it did not "presently intend" to move for a change of venue. Defense attorneys said that was the specific question asked by the court and they were simply responding to the question as asked and the government misunderstood their position.
"The defense position respecting the drawing of a jury from Area C is the same as the government's," Bruck said in the motion. "We believe that a statewide jury is not necessary, and that an impartial jury can be selected from the eight-county Low Country region that comprises Area C. For this reason, we do not intend to move for a change of venue, and have allowed the Court's June 15, 2016 deadline for declaring such intent to pass."
"That said, it would be irresponsible to declare an absolute and irrevocable determination that the defense will never move for a change of venue, no matter what unforeseeable new developments may occur in the future," he wrote. "For example, should voir dire examination disclose – contrary to the current expectations of both sides, and to all the available evidence -- that twelve impartial jurors and six impartial alternates simply cannot be found in Area C, the defense would be forced by these changed circumstances to reconsider its position respecting venue. We do not expect that to happen, and indeed are confident that it won't.2 But presumably because nothing in human affairs can be predicted with absolute certainty, the Court asked whether the defendant 'presently intends to move for a change of venue,' Dkt. No. 192, ¶ 2, and the defense has responded that he does not. Any more irrevocable promise would have been illusory, and the defendant's inability to provide one affords no reason to resort to a district-wide jury in this case."
The term voir dire refers to a preliminary examination of potential jurors are interviewed by the court and often by attorneys for the defense and prosecution to ensure they will be impartial in rendering a verdict.