Subscribe

Dylann Roof appears in court: Why is judge withholding witness, reports? (+video)

Media organizations are challenging a court order that restricts their access to trial participants and court documents.

  • close
    The man accused of fatally shooting nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina made an appearance in court Thursday, where a judge extended a temporary gag order.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The alleged gunman who is accused of the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., that left nine people dead, appeared in court on Thursday for a hearing to determine whether legal documents in the case will be released to news media.

Media organizations including The Associated Press, Charleston’s The Post and Courier, and the South Carolina Press Association are challenging a court order that barred attorneys from talking about the case and prevented the release of emergency dispatch calls, coroner reports, and witness reports until a hearing next Wednesday.

The order was instituted because of a concern by the judge that Dylann Roof’s right to a fair trial could be impaired because of pretrial publicity.

Media organizations are arguing that the judge’s gag order is too broad and the public has the right to know about the details of the case.

Thursday was Mr. Roof’s first appearance in court since his bond hearing on June 19, where the families of the massacre's victims expressed their grief and forgiveness of alleged murderer.

James Gosnell – the county magistrate who oversaw the bond hearing – has been accused of making the procedural legal event a media spectacle.

“Particularly at a bond hearing, the magistrate is there to preside over the administrative proceeding and move the case along,” Susan Milligan wrote in US News and World Report. “Gosnell should have resisted the temptation to assert an advocacy role in the process. And if the cameras weren't there, maybe he wouldn't have done so.”

Authorities say that Roof will also be presented with indictments for his alleged crimes at the court date. Roof faces nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and a weapons charge for the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17. He also faces possible federal hate crime charges.

Recommended: Righting past wrongs: South Carolina's 'evolution of conscience'

Law enforcement officials have said that Roof has confessed to the crimes he has been accused of committing because of racial motivations, but it is unknown whether he will enter a plea on Thursday.

After his arrest, a website containing a racist manifesto allegedly authored by Roof, emerged.

The site also showed Roof posing with the flag of Rhodesia and the Confederate battle flag, which has been seen as a symbol of racism, and conversely, Southern pride and heritage.

Legislative action and massive public pressure led to the Confederate flag’s removal from the South Carolina state Capitol where it had flown for decades.

Roof's trial date has been set for July 11, 2016.

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK