Public to Have Chance to Sit in on Roof Trial
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — When Dylann Roof’s federal hate crimes trial starts in November, the court will make use of three courtrooms to allow as many members of the public as possible to watch the proceedings as they happen.
In a scheduling order issued by District Court Judge Richard Gergel, half of the 80 seats in the trial courtroom for Roof’s Nov. 7 trial will be set aside for members of the victims’ families. Another group of seats will be set aside for Roof’s family, members of the media, and courtroom sketch artists.
But the court is also opening an adjacent courtroom for more public seating and will offer live video and audio over closed circuit televisions to those in the spillover courtroom.
Seats will be first come-first served.
To get into the courthouse, anyone hoping to attend will have to carry with them a government-issued ID card, like a passport or license. The courthouse will open at 7:30 a.m. and the courtrooms will open 30 minutes later.
To claim a seat, a person has to be in it by 8:45 a.m. each day.
Gergel says in the order anyone in the trial courtroom will not be allowed to stand, make gestures or noises, or wear any clothes, buttons, pins, or ribbons that denote their support for either side in the case.
For those members of the public who do make it into the trial courtroom, they will be given a one-day pass to get back into the courtroom after recesses and breaks.
Gergel says he plans to have a mid-morning break, a lunch break, and an afternoon recess each day, but that could change depending on the pacing of the trial.
With so much attention on the Roof case, the court is also opening a courtroom just for media.
Roof is charged with a number of hate crimes and federal weapons charges in connection to the shooting of nine parishioners on June 17, 2015 at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston. He faces the death penalty.
In state court, Roof faces nine murder and three attempted murder charges for the shooting at the church. Prosecutors in that case are also seeking death for the 22-year-old Eastover man.
He has offered to plead guilty if prosecutors will grant him a life sentence instead of death.
The federal trial is expected to last until January with the number of federal holidays that will affect the pacing of the trial.