"Mississippi Burning" judge dies - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

"Mississippi Burning" judge dies

Source: WLBT Archives Source: WLBT Archives

He was most well-known as the "Mississippi Burning" judge. Retired Circuit Judge Marcus Gordon handled the nationally publicized trial of Edgar Ray Killen for the murders of three civil rights workers. 

Judge Gordon died early Thursday morning at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson.

Judge Marcus Gordon was known to run a firm, but fair courtroom. Judge Gordon retired almost three months ago, in March.  At the time of his retirement Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. said he was the longest serving circuit judge in Mississippi. 

He served as Circuit Judge for Leake, Neshoba, Newton and Scott counties for about 37 years. He was appointed to the bench by Governor Cliff Finch in 1977. 

Gordon put aside his robe briefly to practice law with his nephew in 1987 and was re-elected in 1991.  He served as a district attorney and county prosecutor.

Gordon handled the highly publicized trial of Edgar Ray Killen that made national headlines in 2005. Killen was tried and convicted in the 1964 deaths of civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County. Judge Gordon sentenced him to 60 years. Killen who is 91 is still in prison.

Judge Gordon is being remembered across the state by those who knew him including Attorney General Jim Hood, who said he liked and respected his John Wayne persona, but knew he had a kind heart.

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