Ethics

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A Memphis judge who shared an article on Facebook calling some immigrants “foreign mud” has been publicly reprimanded for posting information that was partisan in nature.

The Nov. 15 letter of reprimand issued to Judge Jim Lammey said there is no proof he made any statements that were anti-Semitic, racist or anti-immigration. Nor is there any proof that he displayed actual bias, prejudice or impartiality toward any litigants, said the letter by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct.

But Lammey did violate ethics rules that say judges should avoid the appearance of impropriety when he shared several images on Facebook, the reprimand letter says. The Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Daily Memphian have coverage.

According to the letter, the images specifically reflect “a concern for the credibility of certain federal agencies, a strong position on professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem, the effect of illegal aliens on the economy, opposition to certain Democrat platform principles, opposing support for then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a position on Black Lives Matter and the double standard of the news media, a position on the controversial issue of shooting deaths by police officers and the media bias, anti-Jihadist sentiment, a position on the controversial issue of transgender bathrooms and boys in girls’ locker rooms, concern for illegal aliens voting in Virginia, and an expression of bias in favor of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Lammey has said the posts became public after he accidentally switched his Facebook settings.

The Board of Judicial Conduct launched an investigation after news coverage of the “foreign mud” article that Lammey shared on Facebook.

The article said liberal Jewish people have supported Muslim immigration, acting like people in Jewish folklore who created mud monsters called golems that are dangerous and difficult to control. The article also said Jewish people should “get the f- – – over the Holocaust.”

The letter said it was abundantly clear that Lammey did not write the article, and his only comment was, “Interesting read. … Some four-letter words, though.”

Earlier coverage had described the author of the article, David Cole, as a Holocaust denier. But the letter of reprimand said an investigative panel probe revealed that Cole is not a Holocaust denier.

That characterization is disputed by a Holocaust expert who previously spoke with the Commercial Appeal about a statement by Cole in his 2014 book. “You want the really quick condensed version of my views?” Cole wrote. “Auschwitz was not an extermination camp.” Cole went on to write that Jewish people were killed at the camp, most likely in defiance of orders.

Lammey has recognized his error in sharing the posts and has agreed to complete an educational program addressing ethical issues and the use of social media. During his 16 years as a criminal court judge, he had no prior negative ethics history, the reprimand letter said.

Hat tip to the TBA Law Blog.

Article revised at 7:10 p.m. to elaborate on Cole’s views.

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