Readers know I detest excessive obsequiousness toward our judges -- of course they deserve respect and deference, but so often they are treated by attorneys as Kings and Queens when we are in front of them, yet mercilessly mocked and derided the minute they are out of our presence (this never happens at judicial receptions btw!).
This has a distorting effect both for the judge and the practitioner and enables a "cocooning" mindset that can negatively impact judicial temperament.
I'm not a fan of excessive familiarity or faux jocularity with our judges either -- nothing makes me cringe more than to hear an old "Dinosaur" of the bar give an introduction and refer to a federal judge by her first name or a diminutive nickname from back when they were "buddies" in law school.
Please, no "Freddie" Moreno -- it tells me more about your large ego (and concomitant insecurities) than it does about the person you are pretending to introduce.
Just call him "Chief Judge" and get out of the way.
(Same with ostentatious back-slapping displays at restaurants).
I'm reminded of all this by an incredible tale of judicial stupidity passed on by an alert reader (h/t Andrew Sullivan):
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:What kind of judge jails a lawyer for standing respectfully in silence during the Pledge of Allegiance?
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.”
Someone whose head is nestled deep up his own judicially cocooned arse, that's who.