The judge in the Charleston shooting case opened Friday’s bond hearing for the alleged killer of nine, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, by lecturing a courtroom packed with family members of the people slain in the racially-motivated hate crime that Roof’s family members are also “victims” in the incident.
James “Skip” Gosnell opened the court proceeding with a personal statement of the sort not normally heard in a bond hearing. The statement may be viewed in the video above. Gosnell led off the statement not by expressing sympathy for the families of the murder victims, but by calling for sympathy for the family of the alleged killer.
“We have victims — nine of them. But we also have victims on the other side,” Gosnell said. “Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they are being thrown into. We must find it in our heart at some point in time not only to help those that are victims but to also help his family as well.”
The statement drew immediate reactions of disbelief both in the mainstream media, as well as online. The New York Daily News blasted the bizarre statement as “tone deaf,” while CNN anchor Don Lemon could only ask, “What the hell is he talking about?”
The reactions on social media were numerous and immediate. A sampling included the following.
Magistrate James Gosnell Jr is an example of white southern bigotry, ignorant pontification & a good ole boy’s entitlement to say anything.
— Desiree P. Urquhart (@CBMaiden) June 19, 2015
I’m not the type of lawyer who spends lots of time in court. Still, IMO, Judge James Gosnell’s speech was extraordinary and inappropriate. — NEMM (@hoyanick) June 19, 2015
Call this idiot and express your concern about his statements today Chief Magistrate James Gosnell Jr. (843)745-2390
— RJ Johnson (@RJComedian) June 19, 2015
Shame on you SC Judge James Gosnell for suggesting Roof’s family are victims too. That comment was the epitome of ignorant! — Carol Kraft (@Godsgirl645) June 19, 2015
Just send the damn DOJ now. This Judge James Gosnell has telegraphed the verdict well in advance of the monkey trial pic.twitter.com/dmLyscZjdQ
— Lonzo (@osougatdatshit) June 19, 2015
Watching Judge James Gosnell lecture the families of victims in court re: sympathy for Roof family made me sick. Racism not thinly veiled. — Elizabeth Bradbury (@isabellabc) June 19, 2015
Gosnell has been in hot water over racial issues before. In 2005 he was officially reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court for using a racial epithet aimed at a defendant in court.
“There are four kinds of people in this world: black people, white people, red necks, and n*****s,” Gosnell told an African-American defendant at a bond hearing in 2003, according to the state Supreme Court legal record of the case.
The court noted that Gosnell explained his use of the hateful epithet as “an ill-considered effort to encourage (the defendant) to recognize and change the path he had chosen in life.”
Gosnell was also reprimanded for granting preferential treatment to a fellow judge who had been arrested for DUI, helping the judge be set free from a detention cell before appearing at a legally-required bond hearing.
But Gosnell’s use of the racial slur in court led the Supreme Court judges to take the step of publicizing their disciplinary action against Gosnell.
Gosnell set bail for Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof at $1 million — on a weapons charge. A judge in a separate hearing will set bail on the nine murder charges against Roof, he said.
[Image: CNN Screen Grab]