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Church shooting judge used N-word in court, received reprimand

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jun 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-19 21:41:22-04

The judge in the South Carolina church massacre case was reprimanded for using the N-word in court in 2003, according to a judicial disciplinary order posted on the South Carolina Supreme Court’s website.

Charleston County Magistrate James B. Gosnell Jr. also showed favoritism toward another judge, the justices ruled.

In November 2003, Gosnell was talking to a black defendant, whom he knew, at a bail reduction hearing. 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——,” Gosnell said at the time. He told the 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.

The other charge stemmed from a case in which another judge was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The law required people to stay in jail overnight, but Gosnell drove down to the jail to set a bond for the judge.

Gosnell told officials at the detention center to “make it appear that Judge (Joseph) Mendelsohn’s bond was set at 8:00 a.m.” even though Mendelsohn was set free at 2:30 a.m.

Such bond arrangements had been banned by the state Supreme Court unless a judge sets bail for everyone who had been detained.

The Supreme Court in October 2005 said the favoritism in the judge’s case, combined with the racial slur, merited a public reprimand.

Gosnell, now the county’s chief magistrate, drew the ire of many people watching Friday’s initial court appearance for mass murder suspect Dylann Roof when he talked about the nine dead victims in the shooting, then added that “we also have victims on the other side.”

The Roof family didn’t ask to become part of this tragedy, and they will need help too, Gosnell said.

The next scheduled court date for the Roof case is October 23.