MICAH Calls for Judge James M. Lammey’s Resignation

Walter Pablo pled guilty.

At Pablo’s sentencing—initially two weeks in jail, a year of probation--his immigration status came into question. The Shelby County judge then sentenced Mr. Pablo to a year in jail on the presumption that he was undocumented. The appeals court reversed the decision on multiple grounds, including assuming Mr. Pablo’s status without proof.

Since then, when similar cases arise, this judge requires defendants he suspects to be undocumented to contact immigration authorities as a condition of probation. He is the only criminal court judge in Shelby County to impose this requirement. This judge is Jim Lammey.

Judge Lammey also shares anti-immigrant content on social media, including falsehoods and conspiracy theories. In April, he shared an article by a Holocaust denier calling immigrants “foreign mud” and bristling with anti-Semitism, anti-Blackness, and Islamophobia. When questioned about his social media presence, Judge Lammey brought up a Jewish best friend and Hispanic “good workers” who repaired his roof. He conveyed his fear that Muslim immigrants want to impose Islamic law on the US. Despite it all, he claims to maintain his impartiality to accused immigrants.

Judge Lammey’s definition of “impartial" is our definition of explicit bias.

Memphis and Shelby County witnessed the criminalization of immigrants by our national system and said, “Not here.” We elected new leaders in 2018 who promised to protect our immigrant neighbors; both mayors have affirmed their commitment to the same. Today we see how immigrants have been threatened in our local courts--it’s time to keep our promises.

In a county that pledges not to collaborate with ICE, will we stand by judges who turn our courtrooms into ICE offices? In a city struggling to heal the wounds of racism, will we consent to be represented by judges who propagate insidious stereotypes? In a city striving to respect the rights of all, will we affirm judges who--in violation of their oath of office--treat people differently based on how they look, or the ethnic origin of their names?

Tragically, we have permitted these injustices; it must end now. MICAH calls on our leaders to stand against prejudice and for equal protection under the law. We demand the swift resignation--or if need be, removal--of Judge Lammey, for the sake of the people’s faith in an unbiased, unbigoted, and uncompromised system of justice.

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