I have a very interesting footnote to the case I wrote about the other day, in which Lisa Herdahl filed suit over a variety of clearly unconstitutional behavior by the schools in her Mississippi town. Her attorney in that case was Danny Lampley. You may remember that name because he’s the guy who was thrown in jail in 2010 by a judge for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance in his courtroom. Thankfully, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a public reprimand of the judge, Talmadge Littlejohn, and fined him for his clear abuse of authority.
I did a long interview with Mr. Lampley this weekend. One of the interesting things he told me was that he and Judge Littlejohn had an exchange on the subject a few months prior to the arrest. During a hearing in the same case he had before that particular court a few months earlier, Littlejohn began by having everyone say the pledge of allegiance. Mr. Lampley stood respectfully, but silently.
The judge interrupted the recitation and said, “Mr. Lampley, you don’t say the pledge of allegiance?” Lampley replied, “No sir I don’t, I don’t like it.” And Littlejohn said okay, then please go out into the hall while everyone else recites it. Lampley did so and then the hearing commenced. I asked him why he thought the judge would handle it in this manner one time, then a few months later suddenly decide that a refusal to say the pledge was a case of criminal contempt of court. He didn’t really want to speculate too much, but said that he and the judge had argued over the Herdahl case when Littlejohn was still an attorney practicing in that district and Littlejohn had called the case stupid. Still, he thought the immediate reaction was probably due to the judge just being irritated over how that case, which was a divorce, was proceeding.