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Mississippi judge shrugs off innocent until proven guilty: People charged with crimes are criminals

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A Mississippi judge displayed a startling lack of concern with constitutional rights during a one-on-one interview.

Circuit Court Judge Marcus D. Gordon agrees that suspects have a right under state law to an attorney as soon as an arrest warrant is issued, but he freely admits that he saves money by waiting to assign public defenders until suspects are formally indicted, reported Al Jazeera.

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However, defendants routinely wait in jail for months without speaking to an attorney because Mississippi doesn’t set a time limit for prosecutors to seek an indictment.

Gordon, who is facing an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit for excessive pretrial detention and denial of counsel, told a reporter that he understands the system is flawed, but he said most criminal defendants were “con people” who probably deserved jail time.

“Lady, people charged with crimes, they are criminals, and they say what meets their purpose,” Gordon said. “Now they told you they had requested an attorney. They had not requested an attorney in 98 percent of the cases. You never hear of that, I never hear of that.”

Gordon, who has sat on the bench for more than 35 years, presided over the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in 2005 of manslaughter in the deaths 40 years earlier of three civil rights workers.

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Killen, a pastor, presided over the funerals of both of Gordon’s parents, who died within 24 hours of one another in 1965.

He said investigating “every single case” would impose a burden on defense attorneys, who he said were responsible for determining whether their clients were deserving of vigorous representation.

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“(Defense attorneys should) investigate beyond the information he receives from that defendant,” the judge said. “He investigates the background of the defendant, his opportunities in life and whether he has accepted his opportunities. They try to determine whether he is innocent or guilty.”

The Al Jazeera reporter told Gordon, who presides over four counties, that she spoke to numerous inmates who said they had waited for nearly a year to speak to an attorney, and those meetings lasted 10 minutes at most.

“Are you believing the statements of the defendants?” Gordon said. “They will tell you anything you want to hear.”

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However, he admitted that, if those claims were true, the detentions may be violating the inmates’ rights — but the judge indicated he really didn’t care.

“Lady, the criminal system is a system of criminals,” Gordon said. “Sure, their rights are violated, but not all rights are violated that you’re calling violation.”

He dismissed the reporter’s assertion that law enforcement could verify the inmates’ claims, and he denied responsibility for denying counsel to jailed suspects — even though he admits that the policy was his own and not the state’s.

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“Go talk to the governor, talk to the legislature — I do not have responsibility,” Gordon said. “I don’t have the time, and I don’t have the damn energy to do it all.”

The judge refused to acknowledge that any inmates’ rights were being violated, and he said defendants should “make it known” if they wanted their rights to be protected.

“I do know that there are innocent people, who are charged and go through the system who are not guilty, in the penitentiary,” Gordon said. “But there is nothing I can do about that.”

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Watch this video of Gordon presiding over Killen’s sentencing, posted online by C-SPAN:

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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‘There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there’: Joe Biden at Cape Cod fundraiser

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Former Vice President Joe Biden defended Republican lawmakers in DC as "decent people" during a campaign fundraiser held at Cape Cod.

"There’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there," Biden argued, according to Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.

"I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but...every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me," he said.

”Because they know I respect the other team. I do. They’re decent people," Biden claimed. "They ran because they care about things, but they’re intimidated right now.”

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Neo-Nazi ‘Atomwaffen Division’ holding live-fire militia trainings at ‘The Base’ near Spokane: report

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One sign of the growing white nationalist crisis in America is a new outreach effort for paramilitary training.

"A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members," Vice News reports.

"The Base, which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia," Vice reported. "The images often include a small contingent (typically one to three) of masked, camo-clad men holding weapons standing in front of The Base's flag, a black flag with three white lines running down the centre."

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