Commission Condemns Memphis Judge’s Racist Posts

(CN) – A county commission in Tennessee unanimously resolved Monday to support calls to censure a Memphis judge whose public Facebook posts disparaged immigrants and Muslims and linked to at least one article denying the Holocaust.

The Shelby County Commission said in its resolution that Judge Jim Lammey’s Facebook posts have led its constituents to question the judge’s impartiality and fairness. The commission does not have the power to control the local judiciary, but it said it would support a coalition of advocacy groups that have denounced the judge.

“[T]his body respectfully supports the advocacy groups efforts in having the Honorable Judge Jim Lammey censured by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for the offensive comments shared and made on his social media page regarding immigrants and the Holocaust,” the commission said in its three-page resolution.

In April, Memphis’ daily newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, reported Lammey had set his Facebook posts to public and shared an article written by holocaust denier David Cole, which said Jews should “get the fuck over the Holocaust.”

Rabbi Katie Bowman, who told the commission at its public meeting Monday that she was representing the Jewish community of Memphis, said Lammey’s posts were dehumanizing and his response to criticism displayed a lack of understanding.

“David Cole continues to deny historical facts surrounding the genocide of the Jewish people,” Bowman said. “Judge Lammey’s reliance on Cole’s words only reinforces our assessment as a Jewish community that Judge Lammey is unable to adequately understand and interpret fact.”

Lammey has presided over criminal trials in Shelby County since 2006. Previously, he worked for 16 years as an assistant district attorney prosecuting major violent crimes.

On May 6, Jewish Community Partners posted a statement saying it sent a letter to the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct calling for Lammey’s censure. The letter was signed by leaders with Latino Memphis, the Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region and the Memphis Branch of the NAACP, among others.

Per the board’s rules, most of its proceedings are confidential.

The commission invited Lammey to address them at Monday’s meeting, but in a letter dated Friday – published in The Commercial Appeal – Lammey declined. The judge said he had to respond to the pending complaint made against him with the Board of Judicial Conduct and he believed the commissioners had already made up their minds.

“How many lives has he affected, ill-affected over the last 29 years? We perhaps will never know,” commission chairman Van Turner Jr. said.

According to his letter, Lammey had a “fairly typical Monday schedule” on his docket that kept him in his courtroom handling 45 cases the day the commission met, including three murder cases.

“I have a sworn duty to apply the law fairly and justly. I have a solemn duty to the decent law abiding citizens of Shelby County Tennessee to follow the law and not ignore it,” Lammey wrote. “I intend to do just that.”

Lammey did not immediately respond to a request for comments.

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