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Source: Wall Street Journal (blog)
Date: December 3, 2010
Byline: Nathan Koppel

Judge Goes Overboard with Mandatory Pledge of Allegiance

There’s a story out of Mississippi that evokes grade school and those long-ago days of compulsory recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thankfully, sweet mercy, this pledge story involves a lawyer and judge.

Mississippi chancery judge Talmadge Littlejohn evidently has great affection for the pledge, requiring everyone to stand and recite it when the judge entered the courtroom.

But this pledge regime got a little heated in October after Littlejohn jailed attorney Danny Lampley for not reciting the pledge. Lampley was in the clink for almost five hours.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance was notified about the sanction, and the agency has recommended that Littlejohnn be reprimanded and required to pay $100 in court costs. Here’s an article on the pledge fracas from the Clarion Ledger.

Lampley was representing a client in a divorce case when he was found in contempt, the Clarion Ledge reports, noting that Littlejohn’s order said Lampley could purge himself of criminal contempt by complying with the order to stand and recite the pledge.

“I’m pleased my rights were vindicated,” Lampley said, adding: “I didn’t know I was pissing off the judge. It wasn’t my intention.”

Judge Littlejohn has now made the pledge voluntary, the Clarion Ledger reports. We’ve reached out to judge and we’ll let you know if he comments.

Meanwhile, here’s a post from Eugene Volokh (at the Volokh Conspiracy) about the Littlejohn matter, which explains why the law forbids mandatory pledges.

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