SOURCE: The Post and Courier- June 15, 2016  |  Read full article on here

Andy Savage, attorney for several victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting, speaks outside U.S. District Court after a hearing earlier this month for Dylann Roof.

A federal judge overseeing the Dylann Roof case on Thursday denied a motion by an attorney for victims that could have affected the state’s prosecution of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.

The lawyer, Andy Savage of Charleston, said after the ruling that the federal court’s unexpected moves have created scheduling conflicts that could keep him from properly counseling his clients.

He represents several survivors and slain victims’ families in the June 17, 2015, shooting that killed nine at Emanuel AME Church, and he hopes to be in court them when Roof faces a death penalty trial Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court.

But Savage also is defending Slager, who fatally shot Walter Scott on April 4, 2015, in a murder trial set to begin a week earlier. The scheduling means that the trials could unfold at the same time in separate courts across the street from each other.

To remain available for the Emanuel victims, Savage asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel on Wednesday to excuse him from all other court appearances for a two-month span starting Oct. 15. But the next day, the judge rejected the attorney’s bid for a protective order.

“While the court appreciates (Savage’s) position and respects the rights of victims … comity and respect for the state courts prevents this court from entering such a sweeping order affecting an unknown number of proceedings in other courts,” Gergel wrote Thursday morning. “Counsel should seek protection from the courts in which he wishes to be excused from appearance.”

Roof would face possible execution if convicted of some of the 33 charges against him in federal court. A state trial is set for January, but it’s unclear if that proceeding will go forward after the federal one.

Slager is set to be tried Oct. 31. He also is charged with three federal counts, but a trial date for that case has not been set.

Opposing attorneys in Slager’s case are expected to discuss scheduling issues during a hearing at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Savage has said that he would be ready for an October trial but that he could not ignore his commitment and responsibilities to the Emanuel victims. He added Thursday that the federal court’s setting of the Roof trial before the state’s planned January trial created the problem in the first place, so he asked Gergel to issue an order this week. Savage and 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson both were “somewhat taken aback” by the judge’s scheduling move, he said.

“We were both ready to move forward (with Slager’s trial) … until the federal jurisdiction leapfrogged over the state court” in the Roof case, Savage said. “I can be ready for Slager but at the expense of a lot of folks who deserve to have my attention.”


SOURCE: The Post and Courier- June 15, 2016  |  Read full article on here