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Update: Coast attorney Wayne Woodall, 'formidable advocate,' dead at 60

DAVID PURDY/SUN HERALD/2004 
 Defense attorney Wayne Woodall, right, cross examines Biloxi Police Officer Nick Sonnier in February 2004 about a blood test kit that was used on Woodall's client.
DAVID PURDY/SUN HERALD/2004 Defense attorney Wayne Woodall, right, cross examines Biloxi Police Officer Nick Sonnier in February 2004 about a blood test kit that was used on Woodall's client. SUN HERALD

Longtime South Mississippi attorney Wayne Woodall has died of a heart attack.

His wife, Jeannie, told the Sun Herald on Tuesday he suffered a heart attack at their home Monday night and could not be revived at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

He had celebrated his 60th birthday in May.

She said survivors include his daughter and the couple's son.

Woodall had a law firm in Gulfport, but was widely known as a defense attorney across South Mississippi. He had practiced law for nearly 35 years.

Woodall specialized in DUI defense, but also handled other types of criminal defense, along with personal-injury and wrongful-death lawsuits.

'Well-versed in the law'

District Attorney Joel Smith on Tuesday described Woodall as "a formidable advocate for his clients in the courtroom.

"He was tough, well-versed in the law and quick on his feet. At the same time, when outside of the courtroom, he was always a pleasure to be around, and a friend to many in the legal field and in our community."

'Straightforward, truthful'

Veteran attorney Joe Sam Owen said Woodall was "incredibly honest, a great virtue you don't see in many attorneys these days."

Woodall was straightforward and truthful, Owen said. "I was impressed with his ability in the courtroom.

"In all the years of seeing him the courtroom, I never saw him try to mislead the court or a jury."

Owen said Woodall was considered a "very aggressive" defense attorney who worked hard to defend his clients' rights.

"But if you watched him in the courtroom, there was always a lot of substance to what he said. His arguments may not have been accepted by the judge or a jury, but he always handled himself well and had a good temperament in the courtroom."

'Respectful'

Woodall handled many cases in County Court. He was always respectful to clerks and willing to wait for others to transact their business before he did, said Harrison County Circuit Clerk Connie Ladner.

He was always pleasant and respectful, she said.

Ladner said Woodall once walked in and heard an irate customer at the counter.

"Wayne quickly stepped in and told the customer that he was not to speak to the clerks in that manner," Ladner said.

"He will definitely be missed."

High-profile clients

Woodall handled some high-profile cases through the years, such as a Gulfport city judge who resigned after his arrest on drug charges; the judge was placed in a pretrial diversion program similar to probation.

Woodall represented a Gulfport police officer who resigned after his arrest on a felony child-abuse charge; a grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict the man, who's working again in law enforcement.

Woodall also represented owners of a Gulfport computer business where eight-time world boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho broke in and fell through the roof, causing damage and stealing laptop computers and cash. Camacho pleaded guilty, made restitution and was sent back to Puerto Rico.

Woodall didn't shy away from talking to the media about his clients or discussing DUI laws.

He had this to say to the Sun Herald in September 2014 about an amended DUI law that allows first-time offenders to ask for an ignition interlock for 90 days instead of license suspension:

"It will preserve the jobs of people who make a simple, one-time mistake of having too much to drink, allow them to work through the program, learn the dangers and demonstrate over a period of time an awareness of safe driving."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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