Jackson County

Longtime attorney George Shaddock ‘was kinda like Matlock’

George Shaddock and his wife, Ann, are shown in this picture taken at the Biloxi Steamer.
George Shaddock and his wife, Ann, are shown in this picture taken at the Biloxi Steamer. Sun Herald File

Longtime attorney George Shaddock, whose courtroom style and personality have been linked to Andy Griffith’s role in the TV show “Matlock,” has died.

Shaddock, 78, of Pascagoula, had practiced law for 53 years before his retirement a year or so ago. He died Sunday.

Considered a prominent defense attorney, Shaddock tried high-profile criminal cases in circuit courts in Jackson, Harrison and neighboring counties and also defended clients prosecuted in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Mississippi. He also tried personal injury lawsuits and handled workman’s compensation cases.

“He was like a fixture in the Jackson County Circuit Clerk’s Office,” Circuit Clerk Randy Carney said.

“He’d always bring a smile to our face and keep us going,” Carney said. “He was kinda like ‘Matlock.’”

Joe Martin, circuit clerk for 36 years and a friend of Shaddock, laughed at the idea of likening him to Matlock.

“Yes, he was,” Martin said.

“He could be fiery at times and would stand toe-to-toe with you for his clients. He was a funny guy and compassionate. A really great man. He did a lot of free work for people who couldn’t afford to pay and he never turned them down when they needed him. He was a great man.”

Was still helping others

Shaddock most recently showed up in a courtroom March 17 and was hospitalized later that day, he said.

Martin recalled a trip to Lucedale with Shaddock and another friend after Shaddock had retired.

“His phone never quit ringing,” Martin said. “People were calling, wanting his help.”

“There’s a lot of tales about George that I’m sure people will tell for years and years and years. My heart goes out to Ann (his wife) and his children. It’s also a blessing that George is not laying there suffering.”

Shaddock was down-to-earth and continued to pop in at courtrooms and the clerk’s office just to see what was going on, Carney said.

“You would be sitting in the audience, and there you’d see him, with no connection to a trial, no ties. I guess if you do something for so many years, you enjoy seeing it and doing it. And he did it well.”

Shaddock was more than a lawyer, friend and mentor, attorney Calvin Taylor said.

“He was a bonafide legend and he was fearless,” Taylor said.

Sparing lives, defense strategies

“You know, the government is powerful, but with George you had a fighting chance,” Taylor said. “George was all about the underdog. He loved people and he didn’t judge whether you could pay or not.”

Shaddock was especially passionate in the dozens of capital murder cases he handled. He had recently said not of one of his defendants had received the death penalty.

Taylor said he has fond members of Shaddock’s defense strategies.

For instance, Shaddock once defended a man accused of littering because he had thrown a cigarette out of a car window.

“He told the judge his client smoked an unfiltered Camel cigarette and it burned up so it couldn’t be littering,” Taylor said. “The judge agreed and threw the case out.”

“He was all about the little guy. He was old school. He didn’t run his law practice like a business. He would give out more money than he took in on a Friday. Some were former clients who couldn’t pay their rent. He’d help them.”

Taylor was a teenager when he met Shaddock. Before Taylor finished law school, Shaddock was in the receiving line of Taylor’s wedding when he offered Taylor a job. Taylor worked with him from 1992 to 1997.

Shaddock and his wife were grief-stricken in May 2013, when their grandson and another teen athlete died in a knee-boarding accident on the Pascagoula River. Caleb Sweeten, 15, had lived with the couple since before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Shaddock enjoyed taking his grandson hunting.

Judge Robert Krebs asked for a moment of silence for Shaddock on Monday morning in Circuit Court.

Shaddock was admitted to the Mississippi Bar Association in 1964. His law firm was on Jackson Avenue.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews