Sleazeball Alert – Judge Talmadge Littlejohn

Talmadge Littlejohn, a Mississippi Chancery Court Judge, held attorney Danny Lampley in contempt of court and sent him to jail because Lampley declined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance when ordered. (source)

The judge’s order says:

BE IT REMEMBERED, this date, the Court having ordered all present in the courtroom to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience, and having found that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law, failed and refused to do so, finds said Danny Lampley to be in criminal contempt of court.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Danny Lampley, Attorney at Law is in criminal contempt of court for his failure to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance as ordered by the undersigned Chancellor and is hereby ordered to be incarcerated in the Lee County Jail.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that Danny Lampley shall purge himself of said criminal contempt by complying with the order of this Court by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court. (Order)

Absolutely amazing. This “judge” (or “chancellor” as he is referred to) is such a petty, small-minded, and uneducated moron that he completely pissed on his own oath of office.

On the other hand, I do have to question whether the lawyer showed good judgment. While a judge trying to compel someone to say the Pledge is disgusting, unless the Lawyer’s client approved of his actions, I can’t say that this was the right time for Mr. Lampley to stand up for himself.

I am as anti-Pledge as anyone, and I think that a judge who compels anyone to say the Pledge should be impeached. Nevertheless, had I been in that courtroom representing a client, I would have swallowed my pride and played along.

You don’t have to dig deep in this blog to figure out how I feel about religion. Nevertheless, I have practiced law underneath clearly unconstitutionally – posted renditions of the Ten Commandments. I’ve even had a judge swear me in to his Federal Bar, immediately before a hearing, and had him ask (at the end of my oath), “so help you god?”

At that moment, every fiber in my mind screamed at me to speak up — to politely decline to add the little superstitious bullshit to the end of my oath. But as the desire rose up in me, I remembered that I was not there to stand up for myself. I was there to stand up for a client in a trademark infringement suit. My client did not pay for me to fly all the way to this distant court, to prepare for the hearing, all to have his interests prejudiced by my desire to stand up for the Constitution.

So I shut up, and nodded my head politely, and that was the end of it… and then I trounced my dipshit adversary and came home with a victory under my belt.

It might have been the same, had I said “your honor, with all respect, I do not believe in god, but I do affirm everything I just said.” However, it might not have been. Had my client been the Freedom From Religion Foundation, perhaps then it would have been appropriate. But, one of the roughest things about being a lawyer is that you need to remember that it is not about you — it is about your client.

Naturally, Mr. Lampley may have cleared his position with his client. He may have known his client would support his position. And, even if he went right off the reservation with his conduct, it doesn’t change the fact that Judge Littlejohn is a petty little shit, unfit to judge an ugly dog contest, much less the rights of his fellow citizens.

That all said, it is pretty clear that nobody out there will learn from the Judge’s conduct. I’m sure that this kind of thing will happen again. We will never change the minds of those who fetishize a piece of cloth over the principles that this country stands for. But, perhaps my lawyer readers will think about Mr. Lampley’s client and turn this into something positive.

24 Responses to Sleazeball Alert – Judge Talmadge Littlejohn

  1. jesschristensen says:

    Just a thought… but, was it the “under god” part of the pledge that the attorney objected to, or the whole pledge?

    Either way the judge is a petty asshole, but if what the attorney objected to was pledging allegiance to America… it’s kinda a different question, since we have to take that oath anyway as attorneys.

    Nonetheless, I agree about the back burnering personal statements in favor of client interests.

    • Karen-Lynette says:

      Only fascists require people to salute a particular flag. Hitler was big on requiring people to salute the flag. Our allegiance is NOT to a flag, which is only a symbol. Many people have religious reasons for NOT saluting a symbol, which is considered idolatrous. The oath of allegiance is NOT to the flag. How can a bunch of attorneys miss THAT?!?!? I hope someone starts the process to get this judge impeached. He does not deserve to sit on the bench in any kind of court.

  2. It did not make it clear which part. But, I’ve never been forced to pledge allegiance to the flag before. We take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The Southern District of Florida also makes you take an oath of Allegiance to the United States. But… I think that there’s a big difference in pledging allegiance to a country and to a piece of cloth.

    • jesschristensen says:

      Not sure I follow… the pledge is to the flag, and “the republic for which it stands”.

      I mean, in any event, I can’t imagine why an attorney needs to pledge allegiance to anything at the beginning of a court hearing. The whole thing is nutty-nut. My point was just that as a purely intellectual question, for lawyers, refusing to say the religious “under god” bit is kinda different than refusing to pledge allegiance to the U.S., since most of us have to make that pledge anyway as lawyers.

      • David Eoll says:

        Not sure I follow… the pledge is to the flag, and “the republic for which it stands”

        Not sure I follow your not being able to follow. The pledge begins with the words, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” The flag. Its nice that they throw the republic in there as an after thought, but its a flag pledge. You’re supposed to stand up, face the flag, make some sort of saluting gesture to the flag, either hand over the heart or the more traditional Bellamy salute, and then you pledge allegiance to the flag. If that picture doesn’t demonstrate what it is we’re pledging allegiance to, then I’m not sure what other bread crumbs I could lay down for you to follow.

        • jesschristensen says:

          No breadcumbs needed, smartass. The whole flag thing was entirely beside the point I was making — which, fwiw, was really just idle speculation on the question of refusal for anti-religion reasons, versus refusal for reasons of political objection. None of which undermines the stupidity of the judge’s order, in either case.

        • Sean F. says:

          The Bellamy Salute is significantly older than the Nazi salute, has an extra step (the starting from a standard military salute) and has absolutely no fascist connotations.

          Your picture demonstrates nothing.

  3. herbiethelovebug says:

    Look at it this way: It was a divorce case in Tupelo, Mississippi. It’s like that joke – Q: In Florida, what do hurricanes and divorces have in common? A: Either way, someone’s losing a trailer.
    Shining the media spotlight on this huckleberry judge and perhaps educating him and the rest of the bench there, so that this might not happen again, was probably well worth the trade off of having the judge pissed off at you and being biased toward your client. In a very small town like this, this judge and this lawyer almost certainly have a long history, and the judge probably already hates this lawyer or made some ridiculous ruling against him, and now he’s got good grounds for recusing him (although of course he might just end up with this judge’s cousin/uncle/stepfather….).

  4. ChadKnowslaw says:

    Pledging allegiance to a country or state is NOT the same thing as an oath to uphold its laws.

  5. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

    We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.”

    …West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 US 624 – Supreme Court 1943

  6. Littlejohn is running for re-election this year–unopposed. Is it too late to conduct a write in campaign for Danny Lampley?

  7. metasonix says:

    That “huckleberry judge” has served for 50 years. And there’s a bonus: his son is a semi-prominent gospel singer.

    Even funnier, this story ran on the Smoking Gun…..and most of the comments were incoherent rants posted by right-wingers. Those fools do not realize that the pledge was originally written by a socialist named Francis Bellamy–and it did not include the words “under God” until 1954.

    Conclusion: this country is drowning in a tsunami of its own ignorance, madness and paranoia.

  8. […] Liberties: a lawyer in Mississippi got some jail time because he didn’t recite the pledge. Another lawyer (Randazza) discusses this and notes that a lawyer is there first and foremost to represent her/his client and must consider […]

  9. Mark Kernes says:

    In future, when called upon to swear “so help me god,” why not simply answer, “I affirm.” I’ve seen plenty of people do that in courtrooms, and nobody thinks the less of them for it … and if you suspect the judge DOES think less of you for it, a motion in recusal would appear to be in order. You won’t win it, but you’ve preserved another issue for appeal.

    Now aren’t you glad I’m not YOUR lawyer? (Not that I’m a lawyer anyway…)

  10. cpmondello says:

    This supports my belief that judges, any position in politics for that matter, should have “term limits”: Miss. Bar honors Littlejohn for 50 years of service, Honorable Judge Talmadge D. Littlejohn recently received a certificate of congratulations from the Mississippi Bar for fifty years of service to the legal profession. Thursday, August 19, 2010:

  11. Dafydd says:

    Just an odd thought from a non-lawyer. Is it legal for non-citizens to practice law in the US?

    I am reminded of my elementary school days when the entire class was enrolled in something called the “Junior American Ciizens”. My best friend was elected president. It wasn’t until we stood to recite the pledge that the teacher discovered that he was Canadian.

  12. anonymous says:

    I have had an ongoing case in Judge Littlejohn’s court for the past 6+ years and totally agree with your assessment of the man..he should be removed from the chancery court immediately..he is the ultimate “good ‘ole boy” judge..I really wish that at some point in time, I had gone to law school just because of the abuse I have suffered in his courtroom…you can not begin to imagine how incompetent and egotistical he really is unless you have been there!

  13. jac says:

    Lampley needs to hire Mississippi Atty Bobby Sneed

  14. Daniel says:

    Such a biased blog as this one holds no true credence with the truth anywhere.

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