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Charleston victim impact statements: Forgiveness and Pain

Charleston victim impact statements: Forgiveness and Pain

“This is one of the most powerful Christian witnesses I’ve ever seen.”

At today’s bond hearing for Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, South Carolina Judge James B. Gosnell did something extraordinary: he allowed the families of the 9 victims to personally address the suspect in open court. (Roof was present via video conference.)

Watch this right now (h/t to commenter “jennifer”):

More from the New York Times:

“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” Felicia Sanders told Dylann Roof, the suspect in a massacre that officials said was racially motivated. She was in the room when the gunman fatally shot nine people, including her son, Tywanza, and Ms. Sanders survived by pretending to be dead.

“You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know,” she said. “Every fiber in my body hurts, and I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero.”

But like some of the others, she added, “May God have mercy on you.”

The daughter of another victim, Ethel Lance, her voice choked with sobs, said: “I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you,” the woman said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people, but God forgive you, and I forgive you.”

This was a slightly controversial decision on the part of the judge; although within the scope of the law, it’s unusual to have victims address the accused so early in the process.

Listen to his justification:

I set the tone of my court. It’s my courtroom. I take control over it, and I conduct business within the scope of the law.

I’m a Charlestonian. Our community is hurt. Our community is hurt. People have to reach out and tell them, it’s good to grieve. It’s best to learn how to forgive. There is a judicial process that will be taking place. You saw what these people did today. These people, people in Charleston, our citizens, they hurt, but they will learn how to forgive. It’s difficult.

I’ve never seen anything like this; I also haven’t been practicing very long, but I’m used to seeing process and posture that’s left sterile. I think this will help, because from what I’ve seen in my limited experience in the criminal courts, more often than not the victims and their families are told to sit quietly and wait for a verdict which may or may not help bring closure.

In this case, however, the victims have been brought into the process and allowed to speak out on behalf of those they lost at the hands of Dylann Roof. Today, David French at National Review said, “This is one of the most powerful Christian witnesses I’ve ever seen.” I agree with him.

This is the beginning of healing. This is the sort of compassion that makes closure possible. These brave victims became leaders in their community today, because rather than shut down and give in to 2015’s conventions governing how we’re all “supposed” to react in the face of unspeakable evil, they stood up, declared their forgiveness, and offered this monster of a human being the greatest fruit the Spirit gave to us—Love.

What extraordinary people.

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Comments

Good, wise judge here today. Don’t know about other days, but he was that today.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | June 19, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Wise judge?
    Hopefully in SC the judge presiding over the arraignment is not the judge presiding over anything else–bail, preliminary hearing, pretrial motions or the trial. If he is then I hope he has the sense to recuse himself. Otherwise there will be one big issue for appeal.

    Hopefully, Felicia Sanders is not going to be called as a prosecution witness. After making that statement I think the defense will move to have her barred from testimony. Ditto for any of the other people making statements today.

    Further by not sealing the court for this, it really taints a jury pool.

    Furthermore to me it smells of grandstanding by the judge. If he were serious, the statements would have been done under seal.

    This does not apply to the people who made the statements. They were just following the judges cue.

      Ragspierre in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 19, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Good-flucking-grief, Mouse! Your bad wiring is really throwing off some noxious fumes here.

      First, American due process is not obtained in a sterile petri dish. It comes from people, and it can’t be divorced from people.

      Second, what in your wildest imagining makes you think there will be a trial here? What defense lawyer in the U.S. would expose this poor, sick phuc to a jury verdict? AFTER he has confessed. To the point he HAS confessed SO FAR? With the Governor calling for the death penalty?

      Third, on what predicate can you IMAGINE any of these people could be excluded as witnesses? ESPECIALLY Felicia Sanders…!?!?!?

      Forth, the judge OWES the people the chance to see and hear this. It was, IMNHO, a master-stroke by a good jurist who KNOWS he is part of a community, and that his community has been rocked.

      Fifth, I could easily be mistaken, but I think this is the same judge who denied bail. Any bets on him being second-guessed by anybody in the state?

      FINALLY, the judge said he was acting within the law. Put up ANYTHING you have to say otherwise, please.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | June 20, 2015 at 12:34 am

        FINALLY, the judge said he was acting within the law. Put up ANYTHING you have to say otherwise, please.
        Whoopie. The judge said he was acting within the law, So therefore he must be acting within the law! Because we all know judges never make mistakes in the law,
        Wait a minute. Why are we wasting all this money on appeals courts? Since judges never make mistakes in the law,

        Oh yeah and what’s that stuff you are imbibing?

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | June 20, 2015 at 12:59 am

        Third, on what predicate can you IMAGINE any of these people could be excluded as witnesses? ESPECIALLY Felicia Sanders…!?!?!?

        Let’s see. Woman sits in a room with a man for an hour. The only thing that can draw her attention to him is that he is the only white person in the room. He then opens fire for a few minutes most of that time she is playing dead with her eyes closed.

        Now I am assuming she did not pick him out of a lineup, since I have not seen any such report. Which means,

        She is then shown a man that a judge tells her is the same man.

        You know your right. I don’t see how any lawyer could ever argue that her testimony is tainted.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | June 20, 2015 at 2:20 am

        Second, what in your wildest imagining makes you think there will be a trial here? What defense lawyer in the U.S. would expose this poor, sick phuc to a jury verdict? AFTER he has confessed. To the point he HAS confessed SO FAR? With the Governor calling for the death penalty?

        No trial? You mean just take him out back and shoot him?
        Or the DS will take the death penalty off the table for a plea?
        No I get it, you think he will plead guilty and get the death penalty but avoid the nasty looks from the jury?

        And you’re right he has no chance because he confessed. After all people never get acquitted after confessing. It’s just a rumor that many law schools show their students a movia where two guys confess to a killing and get acquitted.

        Finally, you are right the governor says he should get the death penalty. So obviously he will get convicted. I remember that your hero Vincent Bugliosi was just thrilled by Nixon saying Manson was guilty. It helped his case so much.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Ragspierre. | June 20, 2015 at 2:40 am

        Forth, the judge OWES the people the chance to see and hear this.

        No. The judge owes ( to the best of his ability to provide it ) two things.

        1) A fair and impartial trial.
        2) If the evidence shows it, a conviction that can withstand appeal.

      You are a complete idiot.

Juba Doobai! | June 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Forgiveness through unspeakable pain is going to have a profound impact on this murderously racist young man. At this point, the death penalty will be the easy way out for him. The forgiveness of the survivors and relatives will be an unbearable burden unless he repents and comes to faith in XP.

I think the error here is trying to reason with a drugged-up psycho suffering from withdrawals. I guess everybody has heard by now that Roof was on narcotics.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to snopercod. | June 19, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I think you misunderstand. This was for the victims families, not for the accused. As Christians we are to forgive, however the common misconception is that the forgiveness is more for the forgiven than the forgiver and that is simply incorrect. When we truly forgive we no longer hold hate and anger in our hearts that an fester and turn into something dark. I know it may seem selfish but those people today forgave him for their own souls, not for his.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Gremlin1974. | June 19, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Excellent, Grem. Forgiveness is a core of our faith. We cannot ask God to forgive us when we cannot forgive others. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It’s not for him; it’s for them. Not forgiving him breaks their relationship with God.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to snopercod. | June 19, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Also, that forgiveness is the beginning of healing for those left behind. Something that is usually left until the sentencing phase of the process which will be at least 2 or more years away (so much for that speedy justice concept). Now, these people can begin to put their lives back together.

    Radegunda in reply to snopercod. | June 20, 2015 at 12:59 am

    His being on narcotics doesn’t cancel out the deep hatred in his heart. And they aren’t exactly trying to “reason” with him, either.

    I think the first thing their words may do is confront him with the disturbing realization that those he considered so inferior as to deserve extermination are actually better people than himself. Maybe it will have an effect on him; maybe he’s too mentally deranged for that.

    But as others have said, the judge did this to give the families a voice. Whether the perp learns anything from it is likely a secondary concern.

Snopercod…. Christ even saves those…

I was very impressed by the family members. I don’t believe I could have done that.

As a Christian and especially as someone who grew pretty much was born in church it has been stressed to forgive because that is what Jesus tells us. In reality I would find it hard to forgive. Not saying that I would not forgive, but no doubt it would be difficult. These family members are stronger in their faith and what I find heroic is that these family members who are hated because of their skin color can look beyond the hate and speak the words that many of us would have a hard time to utter.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to natdj. | June 19, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Remember Paul? The good that I should do, I do not; the evil that I should not, that I do? That sinner-saint tension is part of all Christians. The families will likely swing between hating his guts and getting on their knees and asking God’s forgiveness. Flesh is what it is, and that awareness of simul iustus et peccatur which we have seen the families demonstrate is going to help them survive the pain of the loss.

Out in public we can all believe whatever we like. As do most, I figure this creep for a monster the living world is best rid of.

But in a COURT ROOM even the MONSTERS have a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Due process. Rule of law. EVERYBODY gets it, or NOBODY can count on it.

It was bizarre and prejudicial in the extreme to have these “victim statements” at this point in the legal process.

If ANY lawyer reading this blog can recall seeing this done elsewhere, I’d sure like to hear about it, because in my nearly 30 years of legal practice this is a first for me.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Juba Doobai! in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 19, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    That may be so. Which is preferable, the race baiting Just Us Brother who was hotfooting it to Charleston, perhaps to agitate at the behest of the POTUS whose constant race baiting has fed the fires, or the diffusion of the possibility of Charleston becoming Baltimore?

    Frankly, though it might be unorthodox, the judge here is a Solomon. Stack the silence of the families up against the powerful words of forgiveness; the first leaves room for the riffraff—like the woman who was screaming on CNN. The second condemns her.

    Unorthodox, but I’ll take it.

    Estragon in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    It’s a bond hearing, not a trial. Some lawyers may get involved and demand a change of venue or outside jury, but this hearing will be the least of reasons for that.

    Roof himself does not appear inclined to deny what he did or apologize anyway.

    For several years, the top-selling bumper sticker in Charleston read:

    “We don’t CARE how
    You did it up north.”

      It’s routine to have “victim impact statements” at bond hearings in South Carolina? Or is it only done occasionally? Or is it EVER done?

      I don’t know, I’ve never practiced in South Carolina. But I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Until he’s pleaded guilty or been otherwise adjudicated guilty, he’s presumed innocent.

      We have these rules for a reason.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        Valerie in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 19, 2015 at 11:43 pm

        The procedure here might be bizarre in most circumstances, but it suits the present case. Days like this are precisely why we have judges presiding over our courtrooms with their wide discretion.

        I would hazard a guess that the judge did not make this up on his own, but responded to a request by the representatives of the families, in a case that should be pled out. The request would have given him a general idea of what they wanted to say.

        This is a case where the identity of the killer of nine people will not be in issue. There is a great deal of evidence, including an eye witness spared by the killer, and the killer’s confession. There is no question about his actions, their effect, or his intent to kill. Indeed the only defense he is likely to have is insanity, which may yet be proven.

        This killer said he wanted to start a race war, and there are people outside the courthouse who would be happy to oblige him.

        Given the totality of the circumstances, the judge may have concluded that giving these good people a voice might further the interests of justice by giving the victims some relief, by calming the tensions surrounding the court, and allowing further proceedings in a calmed, more rational, atmosphere.

        Given the results we saw in Ferguson and Baltimore, I submit that it was well worth a try.

          So why have a trial at all?

          You’re personally convinced there aren’t any substantive legal issues to address, so why bother, right?

          Just take him out behind the court house and shoot him. Easy-peasy.

          Oofah.

          There’s a reason I prize due process.

          And all of this is an excellent case study in why.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Hey, can we just have the victim impact statements delivered as testimony at the trial proper, injected into the jury intravenously before they’ve even deliberated?

          if not, WHY not?

          Oofah.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Valerie. | June 20, 2015 at 3:31 am

          I would hazard a guess that the judge did not make this up on his own, but responded to a request by the representatives of the families, in a case that should be pled out. The request would have given him a general idea of what they wanted to say.
          I don’t think a judge would listen to such a request. Not when the guy hasn’t been found guilty.

          What makes you think the case will be pled out? You think the DA is going to take the death penalty off the table for a plea? I don’t think so. In that case he has a lot to gain by not pleaing.
          That is the time the appeals drag through the court.

          This is a case where the identity of the killer of nine people will not be in issue.
          Until you brought it up I thought so, but now that you mention it.
          There is a great deal of evidence, including an eye witness spared by the killer,
          Well as I pointed out if the eyewitness was one the speakers, she may not be allowed to testify.
          Even if she is, what did she see? Supposedly the killer gave her his name, but how do you know he told her the truth?
          and the killer’s confession.
          Assuming his lawyer doesn’t get it excluded. Even then any homicide cop will tell you that they get many false confessions.

          The funny thing is that we haven’t heard anything from the police about the gun. If they found it in his possession and it is the gun then great. But what if they haven’t found it, test the gun that was a gift and that turns out not to be the gun?

        Estragon in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 2:11 am

        If people are “presumed innocent” at bond hearings, why isn’t everyone released ROR?

        There is no question or guilt OR innocence at the bond hearing. No statements made by anyone besides the defendant are used at trial, and even his cannot be unless made with advice of counsel.

        HINT: the entire country is applauding the hearing, you are throwing darts. Get a grip.

        I agree with your stand on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty-no “ifs” “ands” or “buts”.

        And with your comment…”Hey, can we just have the victim impact statements delivered as testimony at the trial proper, injected into the jury intravenously before they’ve even deliberated?”

        I would like to see the healing begin sooner rather than later and hopefully this will happen with a sooner rather than later trial.

        Andrew, I always appreciate your attorney’s viewpoint and your respect for the rule of law (and for Article II).

    Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    I think your basic reasoning is sound, Andrew.

    BUT it is my understanding that in a bail/bond setting this is not all that unheard of (with the caveat that I am no criminal lawyer).

    The idea being that the presumption applies to the case-in-chief, and is not displaced by the bail/bond hearing.

    If it’s out-of-line, we’ll hear about it being criticized by the state bar, I’m sure. Thus far, I’ve heard no word of censure against the judge. It could still be coming, I recognize.

      Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | June 20, 2015 at 2:28 am

      I think by the judge’s statement before allowing them to speak, it is pretty clear he checked the law beforehand.

      Felony bonds must be set here by a circuit judge, not a magistrate. These are public hearings. Whether anyone besides the prosecutor and defense is allowed to speak is entirely left to the judge’s discretion.

      – – –

      There is a bigger issue here, too: with Sharpton and other troublemakers headed this way, these survivors did not want their lost loved ones to be used to harm the city. It would be an affront to their memories.

      Their brave statements to the face of the murderer reminded us all of who they were, and who we are. We are not Baltimore. We do things differently here. We don’t ask you to like it, only that you respect it.

      – –

      Incidentally, people seemed surprised when a young black man was elected first to the House from one of the most Republican districts in the country, and then to the Senate. It’s because they didn’t know Tim Scott or his state.

      And they might be surprised to learn the Southern Senator who hired the first black staffer, and who employed the most blacks on his staff – for most of his tenure, more than all other Southern Senators combined – was a man named Strom Thurmond.

      The point is, nobody in South Carolina was surprised by either.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 12:39 am

    So I take it you do not feel this judge acted wisely?

      Estragon in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 20, 2015 at 2:32 am

      As Andrew noted, he has never practiced in South Carolina. By your comments, you may never even have heard of the place before now.

      Uninformed opinions are much like anuses in that they are quite common, emit waste gas, and usually stink.

    NavyMustang in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 3:01 am

    Andrew, I completely agree with you. This is not the time in the process for this.

    Understandably, emotions are running high on the part of the family members and everyone else in the community, including the judge.

    However, execution of the law should not be based on emotion. It must be rational and unbiased.

    I’m not a lawyer, but if I were, I would be screaming from the rooftops that this scumbag (I know, begging the question) cannot get a fair trial when he is being treated as convicted before he’s even had an opportunity to plead guilty!

    Remember all, we were outraged when Mosby made her pronouncements at her infamous press conference. This is a similar circumstance (even though I fully believe Roof is guilty as sin).

    I think I even heard the judge say, “May God have mercy on you” during the hearing.

    Isn’t that something said at sentencing traditionally?

    Nobody, least of all me, is saying the families et al shouldn’t be given the opportunity to say these things. It just needs to happen once the wheels of justice have turned completely.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 7:30 am

    To change the topic ( sorry ) Marilyn Mosby filed a reply to the motion regaurding her memo.
    https://www.scribd.com/doc/269175277/State-Attorney-Response-to-Defendant-Motion-for-Recusal-of-Marilyn-Mosby

    It appears she she has doublerd down on the vitriol.

    Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 10:41 am

    South Carolina Constitution

    SECTION 24. Victims’ Bill of Rights.

    (A) To preserve and protect victims’ rights to justice and due process regardless of race, sex, age, religion, or economic status, victims of crime have the right to:

    (1) be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal and juvenile justice process, and informed of the victim’s constitutional rights, provided by statute;

    (2) be reasonably informed when the accused or convicted person is arrested, released from custody, or has escaped;

    (3) be informed of and present at any criminal proceedings which are dispositive of the charges where the defendant has the right to be present;

    (4) be reasonably informed of and be allowed to submit either a written or oral statement at all hearings affecting bond or bail;

    (5) be heard at any proceeding involving a post-arrest release decision, a plea, or sentencing;

    So, Andrew, there it is, right thar in the constitution of the state, under Item (4).

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I think another perspective will shed light on things.

    What would you say if this was not this kid ( Yeah I know he’s a man, but damn it he looks like a kid! ) but George Zimmerman. If it was not Gosnell, but Nelson and she let the Martin’s make statements to Zimmerman.

    But then again, we all know that this guy is guilty, so let’s just shut up and get on with the lynchin.

“What extraordinary people.”

Yes, they are. Down here, we call them “Christians.” At one time they were all over.

If there is a trial, this case should not be heard in Charleston. These statements can be used to challenge the jury pool locally. Move the trial to Greenville. It’s closer to Death Valley, anyway.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Redneck Law. | June 20, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Move it to anywhere in the state you like. You will find the same kind of people and they will reach the same verdict. A change of venue in this case would simply be a pretense.

    The bell has been rung and it appears to have been legally rung. You see, had these family members ranted in rage-filled condemnation of Roof, I might agree that they were technically harmful to the defense. But how does the defense argue that family statements of FORGIVENESS allowed at a bond hearing in which the victim’s families are allowed to speak under the state constitution harm the defendant at trial? 🙂 Besides, the family statements could just as easily have been expressed directly through the media, which has a wider reach than a courtroom.

    I don’t know how you feel about Judge Gosnell’s decision to allow the apeakers to be heard in this particular proceeding, but when we have the likes of Mike Nifong, Angela Corey and Marilyn Mosby on the loose wreaking havoc over the justice system, we should be regaling men like McCulloch (Ferguson prosecutor) and Judge Gosnell.

      My point is that any tainting of the jury pool due to the victim impact statements can be addressed by a change of venue. (IF the case goes to trial)

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Redneck Law. | June 20, 2015 at 11:45 pm

        Sure, and I understood that to be your point. I just think a change of venue would be pointless because it would be near impossible to find any jury in the entire state that isn’t going to convict him IF, as you point out, this case ever even gets to trial. A change of venue would simply satisfy appearances for those concerned with process for its own sake rather than those looking at the reality of Roof’s situation. It would sort of be like “wink-wink, he’ll get a fair trial now that it’s been moved to Greenville (Columbia, etc.)”. He’s going to get a fair trial with meticulous due process wherever it’s held because the eyes of the country are upon this case, and the outcome will be the same. He will be found guilty. The drug addiction excuse isn’t going to fly, and no way does he defeat M’Naghten given what he said to the surviving woman and his previous statements to friends about his plans. SC is strictly M’Naghten with the burden on the defendant.

        Really, the only purpose of a trial in this case, aside from due process of course, is to determine the penalty. With Roof as young as he is, there’s a chance his life might be spared. Laying the gun off on dad and the drug addiction on bad parenting might buy him life instead of death. That’s about as good as it’s going to get for him.

MouseTheLuckyDog | June 20, 2015 at 4:12 pm

@Nancy “Rags” Grace

>MouseTheLuckyDog | June 20, 2015 at 2:40 am

>> Ragspierre
>> Forth, the judge OWES the people the chance to see and hear this.

>No. The judge owes ( to the best of his ability to provide it ) two things.

>1) A fair and impartial trial.
>2) If the evidence shows it, a conviction that can withstand appeal.

Ragspierre | June 20, 2015 at 10:04 am

No. Mouse, your drunk.

The judge here didn’t owe Mr. Roof anything but what Mr. Roof got. Due process of the law.

Before I get to my main point, What court of law do you practice in where “due process” does not include a “fair and impartial trial”.

As for my main point, I never said the judge owes Roof anything. You said he owes the people, and I responded with what he owes the people. Or actually it would be more accurate to say “the State” the amorphous government entity that gives judges the power to judge, and pays them their salary. It is a judge’s principle duty to do the the two things I said.

And again I would like to know what court you practice in that a fair trial is not something the judgeowes the people?

    Ragspierre in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Look, stupid, you can keep this up if you want to continue making a fool of yourself, and I’ll help so long as it amuses me.

    THIS judge owned NOBODY a “fair and impartial trial” because his role…stupid…was to set bond for Mr. Root.

    That’s it.

    And he did that. According to due process of law in South Carolina.

    You’ve been demonstrably WRONG about almost everything you’ve blown out your ass here on this thread, which is a growing trend for you on these matters. I dunno what demons are driving you to pretend some sort of expertise in the law or criminal matters generally, but…just damn…

    Ragspierre in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Since it suits me, I’ll continue to play “Big Noise From Winnetka” on your knot-head, Mouse…

    “The judge owes ( to the best of his ability to provide it ) two things.

    >1) A fair and impartial trial.
    >2) If the evidence shows it, a conviction that can withstand appeal.

    It is a judge’s principle duty to do the the two things I said.”

    Beside “Mouse For The Defense’s Big Book Of Black Letter Law”, why don’t you link to some authority for that BS?

    Here’s WHY it is BS…

    1. A “fair AND impartial trial” are not infrequently at swords-points. Depending on the circumstances, any idea of a fair trial might require a judge to be more partial than they are allowed to be. Duh.

    2. A durable outcome is technically (i.e., ‘legally’) without reversible error. Again, that can be the OPPOSITE of either “fair” or “impartial”. It’s just legal.

    3. A criminal trial judge does not have “a” constituency. He/she has several, and they can come very damn close to outright conflicts of interest. There is the person before them as the accused. There are other persons often, the “victims”. There are the abstracts of “the law”, “justice”, “equity”, blah-blah-blah. There are the more definite abstracts of judicial ethics. In South Carolina, by constitutional mandate, there are people who have a right to be heard at various steps along the way, and who have a right to information from the court.

    So, you see (or you don’t…either is cool wid me) that your statement is patently false, overly simplistic, and without support.

    Other than that, it was brilliant…

JackRussellTerrierist | June 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

I think the judge’s decision to allow these people to speak was the humane and honorable thing to do, as long as the decision to do so falls within the law and the judge’s discretion, which appears to be the case on both counts. To finally see someone in authority make a move that brings out the best in people rather than the worst was edifying. I believe the judge may have told Al and the rest of the race whores to stay out of Charleston through the voices of these good people. Their statements are among the most powerful and moving speech I’ve ever heard from untrained speakers. It was genuine, and I believe the judge acted in the best interest of the people by signaling Al and the gang that their actions and voice of violence is unwanted. The mood of peace set by the familie’s words is profound.

To have anything happen in these cases that is not political is a beautiful thing, and it directs the people of this nation to look at what we once were and should yearn for again.

I certainly understand the concern about the process, but when all is said and done, we know Roof isn’t going to get off. He will either be executed or imprisoned for life in an institution, be it prison or a mental facility for dangerous psychopaths. He isn’t going anywhere, notwithstanding the open statements made, and he will receive due process.

May God bless Judge Gosnell.

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