Roof Judicial Opinions

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Reading: Roof Judicial Opinion The court held a two-day competency hearing receiving live and written testimony from eight witnesses as well as voluminous documentary exhibits. After the hearing, the court made the following conclusions of law: (pg. 2) o Defendant does not suffer from any mental disease or defect which renders him unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him o Defendant does not suffer from any mental disease or defect which renders him unable to assist properly in his defense o Defendant is competent to stand trial under the standards set forth in 18 U.S.C. Legal Standard o Competence to stand trial : a criminal defendant is incompetent to stand trial only if he "is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect" that renders him "unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense" (pg. 4) Not every mental illness demonstrates incompetence to stand trial, rather the evidence must indicate a present inability to assist counsel or understand charges (pg. 4) The issue of competence arises when defendant disagrees with strategy of counsel (which is what happened with Roof (pg. 5) o Mental competence to conduct trial proceedings : a criminal defendant's ability to represent himself has no bearing upon his competence to choose self-representation (pg. 6) Defendant is competent to stand trial, so the court has discretion to deny his right to self- representation only if it finds he has a "severe mental illness" that leaves him "unable to carry out the basic tasks needed to present his own defense" (pg. 7) After reexamining the defendant, Dr. Ballenger found no material change in Defendants competency to stand trial or to represent himself, other than a reduction in anxiety attributable to Defendants greater exposure to courtroom proceedings (pg. 9) Roof's goal was not to avoid the death penalty, but to express his political ideology and to preserve his reputation within the context of that ideology o Defendant gave Dr. Ballenger "very logical reasons" regarding specific concerns Standby Counsel raised. Defendant is concerned about his clothing because of the high-profile nature of the trial, and not because of an autistic concern for textile textures. Defendant admits he has social anxiety that causes him to care, more than most, about what people think of him and about how he appears in photographs. Stared at floor to hide emotional responses and smiles to cope with stress (pg. 9) Schizoid personality disorder was only a possible diagnosis (pg. 10) Findings of fact and conclusions of law o After the November 21-22 competency hearing, the court found the defendants mental health diagnosis were limited to social anxiety disorder, possible autistic spectrum disorder, mixed substance abuse disorder, depression by history, and schizoid personality disorder. The court now
finds that defendants diagnoses are limited to social anxiety disorder, possible ASD, mixed substance abuse disorder, depression by history, possible SPD, and possible APD (pg. 16) o Defendant has reasonable understanding of the proceedings including possible death penalty (pg. 17)
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