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View Diary: Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile (200 comments)

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  •  As you point out, this is why it's important... (11+ / 0-)

    ...to remember that street politics and electoral politics are both  essential. Whether judges are appointed by other elected officials or elected in their own right, getting ones we can count on on the bench at all levels matters and matters a lot.

    I wrote about one of these cases in June 2005 when Klansman Edgar Ray Killen got what was coming to him for the slaying of the three civil rights workers during Freedom Summer 1964:

    it was no surprise that Edgar Ray and his 17 Klan pals smirked their way through much of proceedings when the feds tried them in 1967 for the murders of Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney. Why not? These men had already escaped prosecution by racists and cowards in state government, their jury was all-white, and William Harold Cox, the presiding judge in the federal case, was a segregationist through and through. He had dismissed the indictments against the 18, but the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered them reinstated. Cox owed his appointment on the bench to his friend and law school roommate, the powerful Senator James O. Eastland. President Kennedy sought to appoint Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, and Eastland said to Robert Kennedy, “Tell your brother that if he will give me Harold Cox I will give him the nigger.”

    Part way through the trial, one of the defense attorneys, Laurel Weir,asked a prosecution witness about one of the dead activists, Mickey Schwerner:

    “Now let me ask you if you and Mr. Schwerner didn’t advocate and try to get young male Negroes to sign statements agreeing to rape a white woman a week during the hot summer of 1964?”  Cox’s lips trembled.  He told Weir the question was “highly improper” unless the defense had “a good basis” for it.  He demanded to know what that basis might be.  “A note was passed to me by someone,” answered Weir.  Cox persisted, “Well, who is the author of that question?”  A pause.  Herman Alford, one of the other defense attorneys, broke the embarrassing silence at the defense table.  “Brother Killen wrote the question, one of the defendants.”  Edgar Ray Killen raised his hand.

    While the question was a blunder that changed the tenor of the trial and may well have helped jurors convict seven of the defendants, they acquitted eight and deadlocked on three, including Killen, a Klan recruiter who the prosecution thought was the organizer of the slayings, even though he wasn’t at the scene when the three were beaten, shot and buried in a berm. One juror said she couldn’t vote to convict a preacher. No doubt Edgar Ray smirked at that, too.

    Whatever the prosecution’s failures in the current case, I didn’t see him smirking after the jury convicted him Tuesday. He did, however, take a swipe at a reporter as he left the court house.

    Killen got a sentence of three times 20 years.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 02:32:14 PM PDT

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