I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Lawyer Jailed by Chancellor for Failing to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

Danny Lampley (who clerked for me in law school), was jailed by Chancery Court Judge Littlejohn in Tupelo for failing to recite the pledge of allegiance in open court today.  Danny was one of the local lawyers who represented the plaintiff in the Pontotoc school prayer case years ago, working with the ACLU and People for the American Way.

I’m informed that Danny rose and was respectful, but did not recite the pledge.

Media is reporting that Danny has since been released after having been in jail from about 9:30 to about 2:30.

The order incarcerating him provides:

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.

The order states that for this, Danny Lampley “is hereby ordered to be incaraerated in that Lee County jail.” The order continues:

IT IS FURTHER ORDED, 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.

I had not blogged about this because I was in the process of preparing an emergency writ of mandamus on Danny’s behalf.  It’s apparently over now, and, hopefully, no legal action will be necessary.

Here’s a copy of Lampley contempt order.

Update:  I added this:  “I’m informed that Danny rose and was respectful, but did not recite the pledge.”

94 comments to Lawyer Jailed by Chancellor for Failing to Recite Pledge of Allegiance

  • cristen

    I just called Judge Littlejohn’s office: (662) 534-6835, and politely told his administrator what I thought of his recent stunt.

  • plexix

    Here are some comments from The Smoking Gun’s piece on this:

    Submitted by POST87 on Thu, 2010-10-07 10:48.
    Way to go judge. Can you cite that liberal idiot brossow too? Get some decency back into the court system; all the judge asks is to respect the nation that provides your security to allow you to have free speech.

    Submitted by TxBigfoot on Thu, 2010-10-07 11:26.
    you socialist morons forget one thing you are ordered to stand when the judge/Jury enters the room and you are not allowed to sit until told. This moron did not despite the pledge issue. So you guys can now shut up.

    Submitted by JimmmyTheKnife on Thu, 2010-10-07 11:35.
    Everyone knows that there IS NO freedom of expression within a court of law. What do you think ‘contempt of court’ is all about? This is a given. It is a veritable ‘kingdom of the judge’ in there – - and I think that’s fine.

    Submitted by SayCheez on Thu, 2010-10-07 11:48.
    I hope ol’ Danny boy received a 5 hours worth of jail “hospitality,” maybe, next time this POS will recite the pledge…all defense and aclu lawyers need to spend some time behind bars.

    Submitted by Chuck D. on Thu, 2010-10-07 10:48.
    Hooray for a patriotic judge. Lampley should lose his license to practice in America. Let him go to another country he wishes to practice law…maybe Sharia law is to his liking.

    Submitted by tpp on Thu, 2010-10-07 11:20.
    There is NO freedom of speech in a court of law.

    Submitted by Thompson1928 on Thu, 2010-10-07 11:21.
    Any day a judge puts a lawyer in jail is a good day!


  • Oh, he’ll be getting fan mail, I’m sure. Probably a Fox interview too.

  • OldMayfly

    Gosh, the judge has cramped little handwriting, doesn’t he?

  • factord_agin

    The story’s made Drudge Report via smokinggun.com

  • Exterminator

    the NE MS Journal now has a booking photo, “updated”, showing the prisoner in shirt and tie. was he stripped and garbed in prison attire prior to booking or what? worse, was he strip searched with a body cavity search that Lee County was made famous for a few years ago when a teacher was jailed on a frivolous complaint of an over protective parent?

  • Roadrash548

    From Ed Brayton on his blog “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” over at scienceblogs.com:
    “Someone needs to introduce this judge to West Virginia v. Barnette, which contains my favorite passage in the history of the court, written by the most eloquent justice in the history of the court, Justice Robert Jackson:

    ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitution, 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.’

    See that part about officials high or petty? The judge is such an official. Obviously of the petty variety.” – Ed Brayton

    Petty…kinda like the comments from The Smoking Gun. I’d have to add ignorant to that.

  • Chilidog

    From Justice Robert Jackson

    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.

  • [...] 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) [...]

  • Paul Wichmann

    Seems like “Judge Robinhood” has just a little more issue with old “Dannyboy” then he’s letting on. That being said, proper respect dictates that you indeed stand when the judge enters a court room, that’s just plain courtesy. Silence however, is everyones right and the Judge had no right to hold anyone in contempt for not reciting the pledge. Freedom of speech includes the right not to speak as well. I hope this bites the Judge in his ass and very hard I might add. Best of luck this month Robinhood, I hope CNN crawls right up your arse and has a field day with this.

  • a friend of the law

    I know Danny, as I have dealt with him in several matters over the years. He is serious about his beliefs and I respect his decision on principle. The good Chancellor was dead wrong on this matter. How embarassing for him. And if there is not swift and harsh rebuke from the JPC, then our profession is dead. As part of his rebuke, the Chancellor should be forced to apologize to Danny in open Court before a full house with media in attendance.

    Our first amendment rights are not just lip service. All of our constitutional rights are critical to our freedoms and governmental system of checks and balances. Free speech is a form of check and balance exercised by citizens. Silence can be a form of protected expression.

    As a show of support for Danny, the next time that I am in the Lee County Chancery Court for the opening of Court, I plan to remain silent during any such recitation of the pledge (I have a feeling this tradition will now die a quick death). Telling me that I have to do something, or can’t do something, is the surest way to get me to do the opposite.

  • Paladin

    Ok guys I agree that the judge crossed a line here and more importantly I would assert that we have to question the rational behind his actions – a first year law student would have known better and everyone in the room at the time had to know where this was going media wise.

    So here we go:

    “I pledge allegience to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible witt liberty and justice for all.”

    The pledge of allegience is one of loyality to our country – not a particular political party or person – so one or more of you please explain why any citizen (attorney or otherwise) would refuse to recite the pledge and show respect for our nation in the first place.

  • [...] to recite the pledge of allegiance, something the lawyer has refused to do on principle. Lampley reportedly “rose and was respectful,” but remained mum. Littlejohn found him in contempt of court and [...]

  • Magnet Ron

    Because they have the right to refuse to say it. It is simple, and it really strikes me as odd that any educated adult would have difficulty with the concept. It is a philosophical point much older than the republic itself.

    Some religious faiths disallow the recitation of the pledge as idolatry, some individuals may not like the way an imaginary deity was inserted into the language of it, or a guy may just not feel like saying it right now. Refusal to recite may be a political protest or just a cantankerous wild hair. The point is that it does not matter. No matter what reason Mr. Lampley had for refusing to recite, it was, in and of itself, sufficient. He needs NO defense for his refusal. It was a grave intrusion of Mr. Lampley’s personal liberty on the part of an idiot judge. I am not familiar with the workings of the legal system in Mississippi, but something tells me the ACLU will have something to say about this soon, and that Judge Littlejohn will be getting some unpleasant phone calls in the next few days.

  • Ben

    Magnet Ron: would that your were correct. However, this is election season and, even though Chancellor L’john is unopposed, people will roll out to vote for him just because “he knows how to put those damn communist yellow-bellied bastard ACLU-lovin’ queer faggot chickenshit sumbitch lawyers in their place and he does it the good ole American way. He throws their lilly-livered asses in jail and lets ‘em rot. God bless him.”

    Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  • RazorRedux

    Littlejohn proves two points, at least to me; one, that half of the class always graduates in the bottom half, the second, some people never learn shit once they get out of school.

    I’ve never thought twice about saying the Pledge before, but I’m pretty sure I will the next time the opportunity presents itself. And I’m pretty sure I won’t do it. Just cause I can choose and at the same moment I’ll thank my lucky stars that I live in a country where I have that right and choice.

  • Russell

    Aside from the free speech arguments, there are freedom of religion arguments for not citing the pledge as it is currently formulated with ‘under God.’ One is: many believing Christians and Jews believe that the phrase ‘under God’ constitutes an oath – a taking the Lord’s name in vain – which is forbidden by their religion. It also implies that a government of men is the same as the government of God. If they are coerced to say the pledge in its current form, they are being coerced to violate a principle they hold sacred. Another is: if you are an atheist, you would be required to state a belief in something you hold to be a falsehood in the same breath you are declaring your loyalty to the country. Atheists can be loyal citizens of the republic to just the same degree as believing Christians. Indeed, for many atheists, the Constitution represents as high an authority as one can have on this earth, and they honor it as such on the basis of reason and experience. In its current form, the pledge forces them pledge loyalty to a state (with which some would have no problem, necessarily) at the same time it forces them to utter what they believe to be a falsehood – surely, a pledge is not purposed to create hypocrites. However you look at it, requiring the statement of the pledge in its current form violates freedom of religion.

  • [...] for contempt of court, because the lawyer refused to say the pledge. (The lawyer apparently did stand during the pledge, but didn’t speak.) “Give thanks for your freedom, son, or I’m sending you [...]

  • Patriotism-where's yours?!

    What is wrong with you people?! Your attitude is part of our country’s problem. I can’t believe there aren’t more people commenting for the judge’s ruling! You LIVE IN AMERICA. Everyone in this country should be freely willing to say the pledge of allegiance or find a country they’d rather pledge to. Look at the lives lost for your freedom to be so obstinate, and I can hear you now, ‘yes, the freedom to choose!’ THATS GETTING SO OLD. Out of respect for those same lives your ‘choice’ should be obvious! We as Americans have taken this ‘my freedom to choose’ too far and worried too much about political correctness or not offending anyone, and we are paying for it in HUGE ways. I am offended by any confessing American who would not willingly pledge to our flag! I say KUDOS to this judge!! Way to go!!! And many of you sound like 2 year olds! ‘See if I say the pledge next time it’s presented~the surest way to get me not to do something is to tell me to do it…’ You are supposed to be a highly educated person?

  • Jane

    If we can be FORCED to recite the pledge, then what’s so f____g free about this country?

    And if you want to be forced to sit through a bunch of religious bs, then Judge Marcus Gordon’s courtroom is the place to go.

  • Shorter Patriotism Etc.: “America is so free that you should be forced to celebrate your freedom!”

    Apparently, those lives lost for our freedom to be so obstinate, were lives Patriotism Etc. and Judge Littlejohn wish had been lost in vain.

  • pam

    You mean Judge “father time” Gordon? The one who gave a kid finally ready to leave Walnut Grove who had been there since he was 15 years old 3 more years to run consecutively for burning a $25 mat to create smoke to get medical attention? That “christian” Judge Gordon?? Ha, you don’t say.

  • LawAsComedy

    This isn’t just about the lawyer being required to recite the pledge. It is inappropriate to require LITIGANTS, witnesses, spectators and anyone else in the courtroom to recite the pledge. It is not required that one be an american citizen to receive justice in our court system and it is not unusual to be representing citizens of other countries in chancery court.

  • [...] FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Lawyer Jailed by asshole Chancery Court Judge Littlejohn for refusing to Recite P… Littlejohn? Does this judge have a small penis, and that's why he became a judge? So that he could actually fuck people, for once? (tags: politics FreedomOfSpeech freedom government PledgeOfAllegiance jailed ContemptOfCourt Judges JudgeLittlejohn Littlejohn assholes 1stAmendment FirstAmendment DannyLampley Tupelo Mississippi NMissCommentor ChanceryCourt LeeCounty news articles)   [...]

  • Secession

    The pledge of allegiance also says “indivisible.” But what if one believes in right of secession? This is no small point considering that this happened in Mississippi, and Mississippi once seceded. Seems to me that this judge has dishonored his own ancestry.

  • RazorRedux

    Patriot: No one appears to be debating the willingness of the act, but of the compelling or forcing of the pledge. And yes, I own the requisite number of flags; in front of my home, small decal on my truck, a flag on my boat and most importantly, a love in my heart for what it stands for. But all of the above are by free-will choice.

    Freedom is what built this country and what men and women have died for: not a forced pledge of allegiance. So don’t go trying to compare my patriotism to yours or anyone elses. That is what appears most childish. And McCarthyish. IMO.

  • Anonlawyer

    I attended the swearing-in of a new Justice and one of the many judges speaking at the event held up a Bible and announced that all of our law came from it. Clearly, only Christians are welcome in Mississippi courts.

  • Publius

    Ironically, “The Pledge” is a damn-fool yankee construction from shortly after the War of Northern Aggression.

    The Author, Francis Bellamy, stated

    “The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands’. …And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation – the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches…

    Another great irony is that Bellamy was himself a fabian socialist. Likewise, his cousin Edward Bellamy is the noted author of the socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

  • a friend of the law

    One thing I’ve observed about all of the outrage over Judge Littlejohn’s actions is the apparent hypocrisy of some. I believe strongly in our first amendment rights, no matter whose ox is gored by their exercise. But some who have no problems with someone refusing to recite the pledge, or burning a flag, or urinating on a picture of Jesus, etc., have recently gone apeshit over a preacher of a small congregation in Florida planning to burn a Koran. What is the big deal with that? And why the double standards? As soon as the MS burn ban is lifted, I am planning on burning a Koran in my backyard firepit as a personal exercise in first amendment expression — and as an excellent fire starter. Why? Just because I can …and because so many have seemed to suggest that I can’t or should not. And now that I have announced my intentions of doing so, publicly, on the internet, will I be hearing public statements from the President and the top military commanders to attempt to quell my little backyard rebellion? I would like to see the same type of first amendment advocacy shown for Danny Lampley applied across the board to other first amendment issues as well.

  • RazorRedux

    AFOTL: Send me some of whatever you’re drinking or smoking. You don’t really think morally, ethically or legally any level of consistency is achievable do you? Ha.

    Anonlawyer: Was that a Protestant or Catholic version being used in your story? And I won’t even ask what edition of either of those it could have been. You know we in the South ain’t acccepting anything but the red-lettered KJV since that’s the one Jesus himself used.

  • Druthulhu

    friend of the law: what on earth makes you think that any of the posters here who are in favor of freedom of conscience and expression are the same as those who go “apeshit” about somebody burning a Q’ran? Go right ahead, if it’s your property and you observe local firecodes, it is your right. I do think you’ll probably have to make you intentions known beyond this web page, however, if you expect anyone to go the least bit “apeshit” over it.

  • Druthulhu

    ..oh, and since you are a “friend of the law”, I assume you know that no officer or agent of any branch of the government, federal state or local, took any steps to actually force that Florida congregation to not burn their Q’ran. Some did attempt to reason with them, and lo and behold, to the shock of many, they were amenable to reason.

    You are sounding a bit like Doctor Laura, who whined that her first ammendment rights had been taken from her when others started using theirs to criticize her own lack of judgement and sensitivity. She didn’t even lose her job until she quit, and that would have been a quite well established right of her employers had they decided to fire her. And once again, whiney bitches seem to think that only their rights, their “privilages” really, should count and that others should submit to their values and beliefs.

    BTW, please tell us where and when we can come and observe your public Q’ran burning.

  • [...] to recite the pledge of allegiance, something the lawyer has refused to do on principle. Lampley reportedly “rose and was respectful,” but remained mum. Littlejohn found him in contempt of court and [...]

  • Volly

    Another subtle way to voice your opinion on this is to stand, say the pledge, perhaps more quietly for the “under God” portion, then very loudly when you get to “with LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.” Who’s gonna fault you for that??!

  • [...] Mississippi: judge jails lawyer for not saying Pledge of Allegiance [Freeland] [...]

  • DeltaLawMama

    All these folks who apparently slept through their Government (Social Studies) Class are beginning to get on my last good nerve. AFOTL, I’m with you on that demonstration you want to have the next time I don’t have clients with me and the likely bail saved up. Our Founding Fathers did their best to ensure against this sort of bad justice, but alas we as a nation forget our legacies through indifference, indolence and sloth. We have become dumber and are worse for the lack of effort.

  • a friend of the law

    Druthulhu, I was not necessarily referring to anyone here going apeshit over this topic. But, when the President’s Press Secretary, who speaks daily to the press ON BEHALF of the President, along with the top military commander and other high ranking government officials, make public statements asking someone (as insignificant as that FL preacher) not to do something that they have a first amendment right to do, for the purported reason that persons of a particular religion will or might be offended and then resort to violence, I think the government is getting unnecessarily entangled in a religious matter, very close to an outright violation of the Establishment Clause, and is giving in to a form of blackmail.

    Had the scenario been as follows, imagine the outrage against the administration/government. Person plans public demonstration of urinating on depiction of Jesus — government (including executive branch, military, and homeland security) make public statements condemning the proposed expression and strongly requesting that it not occur, on the grounds that Christians will or may be so offended as to resort to violent conduct in retaliation. If this scenario occurred, would you rise to defend the government’s position, or think it to be an inappropriate intrusion by government upon first amendment expression?

    We all have a constitutional right to be a jackass. But, it does not mean that we should. There is an appropriate time and place for everything. While I don’t agree with that FL preacher’s position, I will defend his right to do it, and take offense to our federal government getting so directly involved in the matter in the way that it did. And with regard to Danny Lampley, while I would not have refused to recite the pledge (having no personal objection to the words of the pledge), I respect and will defend Danny’s right not to say it. And I think the government’s position (through the judiciary branch —Judge Littlejohn) was reprehensible.

    You either believe and support our constitutional rights or you don’t. And sometimes, showing support for these rights means indirectly supporting someone whose beliefs you don’t ascribe to or endorse — it is the right of expression you are defending, not the particular message.

    I wonder, did my old acquaintance Judith Schaeffer with the PAW make any pronouncements defending the free expression rights of the FL preacher?

    DeltaLawMama, I rarely make appearances in Chancery Court in the First Judicial District, but I would be willing to attend an opening of Court with Judge Littlejohn presiding, just to make a point out of principle. If enough lawyers were to join in such a display, would he really lock everyone up for remaining silent for the pledge? Like I said, I think that this “tradition” may soon be a memory. so, I doubt we will ever get the chance for such a display. But, if so, I’m game.

  • Ben

    AFOTL: I said it earlier in this thread or the other related thread–every lawyer in North Mississippi should attend the next opening of Chancellor L’john’s court, and every one of us should stand mute during the pledge. I’ll take my chances with a day in jail for doing the right thing in opposition to the wrong thing. Sign me up. Gather the rest. Let’s pack the courthouse, and not utter a peep.

  • This judge should be removed immediately. He obviously is not qualified to interpret the laws of this country.

  • Encinal

    “AFOTL: I said it earlier in this thread or the other related thread–every lawyer in North Mississippi should attend the next opening of Chancellor L’john’s court, and every one of us should stand mute during the pledge. I’ll take my chances with a day in jail for doing the right thing in opposition to the wrong thing. Sign me up. Gather the rest. Let’s pack the courthouse, and not utter a peep.”

    I’m not a lawyer; but like many of you who are, I hold the constitution dear. I’ll be listening for the sound of freedom coming all the way from the reaches of Mississippi to the Pacific: a silence that screams freedom.

  • Jane

    The Clarion Ledger has an editorial on this and an interview with Curtis Wilkie.
    I was watching headline news at 5 on Friday (I never watch real news if I can help it) and the host, Vinnie Politano and another lawyer were opining that what Lampley did was idiotic and a lawyer should do anything a judge orders. A third lawyer on the show observed that Lampley would clearly get lots of business from this. Apparently this third dude is from a planet that doesn’t have a Mississippi on it.

  • Carlos Fandango

    The Pledge of allegiance didn’t even EXIST until 1892 when it was invented by one Francis Bellamy – a Christian SOCIALIST. Yep, you read that right – a SOCIALIST! So if y’all want to recite an oath of loyalty created by a SOCIALIST that’s fine by me, but it does look kinda… unAmerican. And you know what other Socialists liked to pledge their loyalty in an oath? That’s right – NATIONAL Socialists, or Nazis as we call ‘em.

    Good day and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

  • Richard

    Jail the judge.

    To all of those who have served in the armed forces, please remember how many times you took THAT oath…once, because once is all that is ever required of any oath of allegiance to anything. Say it once , mean it, and never repeat it unless something has happened to change the original oath. Mindless repetition is simply another form of brainwashing – it is government’s job to EARN our allegiance, not demand it, and most rituals of the court are archaic and self-serving of the small minds and inflated egos that populate the Bench.

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