By Jed McKeehan

When is the last time in your life you said the pledge of allegiance to the American flag? High school? Middle school? Elementary school? If it has been that long, do you remember the words?

Unless you are in the military, or perhaps a teacher, few people recite the pledge of allegiance regularly. However, if you must go to court, some judges still open their court sessions with the entire courtroom reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag.

This catches people off guard who did not anticipate this, and it may take them a line or two to recall the words. It is an interesting sight to see a courtroom full of people with cases against each other, and some of those people may be facing jail time, all standing up together, putting their hand over their heart and reciting the pledge of allegiance to the American flag together.

Judges that have the pledge recited at the beginning of court are the exception, rather than the norm. I would guess that one out of fifty judges start court with the pledge of allegiance.

Some judges start court in other ways. One judge in Knox County starts with a daily reading from the Tennessee Constitution. Another judge starts by greeting individual lawyers present and making sure they are having a good morning.

Rarely does court start with the banging of a gavel as gavels are rarely present in courtrooms anymore.

The thing you see most often in courtrooms across East Tennessee is a bailiff announcing to those present they should turn their cellphones off and if they go off during court then they will be confiscated by the bailiff. In addition, they tell people not to bring food and drinks in to the courtroom, not to talk during court, and do not fall asleep during court. These things may seem obvious to you, but you would be shocked at what people do. Once, I literally saw a gentleman start vaping in a courtroom and when the bailiff asked him what in the world he was doing, he honestly thought he was doing nothing wrong because, “it’s not an actual cigarette!” Amazing. These announcements by the bailiff usually get made before the judge enters the courtroom.

Ask yourself though: if you had to say the pledge of allegiance how would you do?


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, and personal injury. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.