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W&L Law Professor David Bruck Appointed to Lead Defense Team for Dylann Roof

The federal judge overseeing the case of Dylann Roof has approved the request by his attorneys to name Washington and Lee law professor and death penalty specialist David Bruck the lead attorney for the defense team in the case.

Roof is charged with homicide as well as federal hate crimes for the shooting at the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead.

In his ruling on the request, U.S. District Judge Mark Gergel wrote that “the Court finds it necessary and appropriate to appoint immediately upon indictment lead counsel “learned” in the law of capital cases. To that end, the Court hereby provisionally appoints David I. Bruck as lead counsel in this matter. Mr. Bruck, who is a member of the South Carolina Bar and Clinical Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has extensive experience representing death penalty defendants in trial and appellate courts across the United States, including cases before the United States Supreme Court.”

This is not the first time that Bruck has worked on a high-profile death penalty case. Most recently, he joined Judy Clarke, who previously served as a visiting professor at W&L Law, on the defense team for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev was found guilty and sentenced to death this year for the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013.

Bruck and Clarke also served as co-counsel for Susan Smith, who was convicted of drowning her two small children in South Carolina in 1995. Smith eventually received a life sentence.

Bruck joined W&L in 2004 after practicing criminal law in South Carolina for nearly thirty years, where he specialized in the defense of capital cases at the trial, appellate and post-conviction stages. Since then, he has directed the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, a clinical program at W&L Law that serves as a resource center for court-appointed defense counsel at the pretrial and trial stages of death penalty cases throughout Virginia.