Have you heard about Brett Talley? He’s the 36-year-old lawyer that President Trump chose to become a federal judge. And while Talley is getting a lot of heat for being unqualified, never once even trying a case, and for failing to mention that his wife is a senior lawyer at the White House, there’s another fact that most other news outlets have ignored. Talley is a ghost-hunting horror novelist.
Talley is up for a lifetime judicial appointment to the Federal District Court based in Montgomery, Alabama, and while the American Bar Association has given him a “not qualified” rating, he seems poised to be confirmed by the Senate. Republicans have fiercely defended the man who, among other things, wrote a blog post about joining the NRA after the Newtown massacre that killed 20 children and 6 other adults.
“Mr. Talley has a wide breadth of various legal experience that has helped to expose him to different aspects of federal law and the issues that would come before him,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement over the weekend.
But Talley’s hobbies haven’t gotten much attention. And while there’s nothing wrong with writing horror novels, it is a bit bizarre that a man who spends his free time hunting ghosts is about to become a federal judge.
Talley has been a member of the Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group and is the author of books like Haunted Tuscaloosa and That Which Should Not Be. And it’s clear that Talley would rather be writing horror novels and ghost hunting than be a judge. He said as much in a 2014 article from the Washington Post, back when he was Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s speechwriter.
The Post followed Talley into a cemetery where he showed a reporter how to “hunt for ghosts”:
Armed with just a voice recorder and flashlights, Talley’s move is to find graves that seem interesting and ask questions out loud in case a spirit wants to answer. Even in his off-hours, he is trying to channel someone else’s voice. But he seems almost to be doing this with a wink and a smirk. He knows it is absurd.
Apparently not absurd enough to stop doing it.
“It’s kind of sad,” Talley told the reporter from the Washington Post as they hunted ghosts in a cemetery. “You live your whole life, and there’s a monument made to remember you but the words have completely faded away.”
Talley then reportedly started talking to the headstone: “How long have you been buried here?”
Frustratingly, the article never addresses whether Talley has ever found a ghost, which seems like one of a dozen obvious questions that you’d want to ask a guy who’s skulking around a cemetery at night with just a flashlight and voice recorder.
The 2014 article is illuminating about other topics that are slightly more relevant to Talley’s current job, including the fact that he doesn’t believe in gay rights, something that he disagreed with Rob Portman about after Portman’s son came out as gay.
“It’s honestly not something I agree with him on, but I’m sort of open to the idea,” Talley said about marriage equality and his disagreement with Portman. “I don’t know, it’s sort of this weird compartmentalization, I guess. My job is to help him deliver his message.”
Talley could be confirmed as soon as today, but we’ll see how things go. Plenty of Americans believe in silly things like ghosts, but I dare say we should be able to find a federal judge nominee who isn’t literally a ghost hunter.