Mississippi divorce lawyer jailed for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance – judge later fined

A divorce lawyer got more than he bargained for in a Mississippi court when the judge sentenced him to prison for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The man was representing a client in a divorce case before his Honor, when he was found in contempt of court, according to WSJ. What happened next is a bit fuzzy, but it seems the judge had a lapse in judgment, over-reached, and sentenced the attorney to jail, and left him there to rot for five hours before His Honor unexpectedly had a change of heart and released counsel on his own recognizance:

Chancery Judge Talmadge Littlejohn sent a lawyer to jail for contempt of court, because the lawyer refused to say the pledge. (The lawyer apparently did stand during the pledge, but didn’t speak.) “Give thanks for your freedom, son, or I’m sending you to jail,” is how Radley Balko (The Agitator) put it. The judge apparently changed his mind a few hours later, and released the lawyer. I’m happy to say that Tom Freeland (NMissCommentator) was working on an emergency petition for mandamus on the lawyer’s behalf, but that seems to have become moot as a result of the judge’s change of mind. [More]

Seems not everyone was amused by the Judge’s shenanigans. The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance has recommended a pubic reprimand and a fine for the judge, according to WSJ. What do you think about this? Should a judge have the authority to order a lawyer to recite the pledge?