A federal court rejected a request by Dylann Roof, the unabashed white supremacist who killed nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church two years ago, to fire his attorneys because they’re Jewish and Indian, the Washington Post reports. Roof, who was sent to death row for the June 2015 massacre at a historically black church in Charleston, requested on Monday that the two public defenders appointed to handle his appeal be removed from his case, saying their ethnicities are “a barrier to effective communication.” He said that, “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,” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The court denied the request Tuesday.
Rishi Bagga of the South Asian Bar Association of North America, said that requesting an attorney’s removal should be based on legal abilities. He said Roof’s comments highlight a challenge among public defenders, who often have to represent clients who don’t reflect their own views. “It’s really part of a lawyer’s oath to represent someone to the best of their ability regardless of their own beliefs, religion or background or origin,” Bagga said. Roof has been on death row since a jury convicted him of dozens of charges, including federal hate crimes, for the deaths of nine parishioners who had invited him into their Bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Federal prosecutors said Roof committed the massacre to try to start a race war.