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New judge sought for Charleston shooting case

By Christina Coleman/Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Defender
On June 29, 2015

James Gosnell Jr.(NNPA) – The South Carolina judge who urged the public support the family of accused AME gunman Dylann Roof during a bizarre bond hearing may be replaced if the state’s Supreme Court has their say.

After the plea, where he also called Roof’s family “victims” of the horrific shooting that left nine dead at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church, it was revealed the court already reprimanded Charleston County Magistrate James Gosnell Jr. before – over 10 years ago Gosnell used a racial epithet in the courtroom, according to a judicial disciplinary order CNN reports.

In November 2003, Gosnell was talking to a Black defendant, whom he knew. Gosnell said he repeated to the defendant a phrase that he had heard spoken by a Black sheriff’s deputy.

“There are four kinds of people in this world – Black people, White people, red necks, and n****rs,” Gosnell said at the time. He told the office of disciplinary counsel at the state Supreme Court that he made the “ill-considered” statement to try to get the young man to change his life. According to NBC, the state Supreme Court announced Gosnell’s replacement prior to Roof’s bond hearing, suggesting the move was in the works some time before.

The state Supreme Court announced prior to the bond hearing that Circuit Court Judge J.C. Nicholson would preside over Roof’s criminal charges, replacing Gosnell. Circuit judges are the ones that oversee trials. Gosnell’s lawyer, Lionel Lofton, also told NBC that Gosnell’s use of the n-word was being blown out of proportion by the media, calling it a “non-issue.” Roof, who confessed to killing nine people at the church last Wednesday night, is expected back in court in October. The Justice Department is investigating whether the fatal shooting was a hate crime.

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