Numerous groups in Tennessee are calling for the censure of a Memphis criminal court judge for a series of social media posts that “carry a dark message of hatred,” including reposting an article by a Holocaust denier that called on Jews to get over the Holocaust. Others are calling on him to resign.
On April 5, Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Jim Lammey posted a link to “Stop With the Golems, Already!” by David Cole.
Jewish Community Partners of Memphis issued a statement that Lammey’s link to Cole’s piece “was only one example of his habit of sharing articles, conspiracy theories, and ‘jokes’ online that carry a dark message of hatred. The content he spreads often targets Muslim and Latin-American immigrants, which is troubling because of Judge Lammey’s elected position overseeing criminal trials as a representative of the State of Tennessee.”
In the 1990s, Cole reached some measure of notoriety for his Holocaust denial films, particularly because he is Jewish. He remade himself as David Stein and was active in the Republican party on the West Coast, running the “Republican Party Animals” until his previous identity was uncovered.
Cole’s piece said Jews create monsters — the folklore golems made of mud — to fight their enemies until the monsters ultimately turn on the Jews. As an example, he cited liberal Jews supporting Muslim immigration, which has come back to bite in the form of Rep. Ilhan Omar and others. He said Jews should stop importing “foreign mud” to fight against whites, and said Jews should “get the f— over the Holocaust.”
Lammey had commented that the piece was an “interesting read,” but later said he disagreed with the author’s Holocaust denial. He told the Memphis Commercial Appeal “I certainly don’t agree with that, being a Holocaust denier. My best friend — who’s deceased now — was Jewish and I wouldn’t do that.”
He told WREG-TV that he was attracted to the piece because it discussed golems, and he did not realize the author was a Holocaust denier.
Before a May 13 hearing, Lammey stated that he was the victim of “character assassination,” and the author of the piece isn’t a Holocaust denier, but a Jewish writer.
Some of Lammey’s other posts discussed opposition to Sharia law and were anti-immigrant. Immigration advocates say Lammey is the only judge in the county who has a practice of requiring immigrants seeking probation to register with Federal authorities — which could get them deported — or remain in jail.
Lammey said he doesn’t talk online about cases that are before him, and told the Commercial Appeal that “I don’t see where sharing articles about (Islamic law) or third time deported people coming in and committing crimes would prejudice my ability to be fair and impartial in any case.”
On May 8, a coalition of faith-based, civil rights, and educational professionals presented a letter to the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Board of Judicial Conduct at a meeting of the county’s Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Courts Committee. The letter called for the board to “publicly censure Judge Lammey and to explore bringing the anti-bias and Holocaust education resources of our respective organizations to the judges, clerks, and staff of our state judicial system.”
Committee chair Tami Sawyer, a candidate for mayor of Memphis, already denounced Lammey, saying on Twitter that “it’s time for him to hang up his robe.”
The coalition included Jewish Community Partners of Memphis, American Muslim Advisory Council, Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region, Bridges, Facing History and Ourselves Memphis Region, Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Latino Memphis, Memphis Islamic Center, Metropolitan Inter Faith Association, NAACP Memphis Branch, National Civil Rights Museum and the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.
The coalition noted Lammey’s defense of his posts, and said “Anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and racism have no place in our judicial system and serve to undermine the credibility of that system.”
The committee voted 7-0 to recommend censure, as it does not have the power to censure, and on May 13 voted 12-0 to ask the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct to state Lammey had done judicial misconduct.
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of the Tennessee-based Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, called for Lammey’s removal. “As the founder of a Tennessee based Christian organization leading a national campaign against anti-Semitism, I find it egregious that a sitting criminal court judge would commit such a breach of conduct, and this at a time when America is facing the recent horror of 12 Jewish lives being lost to terrorism within the perceived safety of their own synagogues,” she said.
Cardoza-Moore has filed a formal letter to the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct.
Lammey was first elected as a judge in 2006, and his current term runs through 2022.