A Blog Voice Goes Silent

February 24, 2015 § 2 Comments

The blogosphere seems to be too young for its stars to begin winking out, but that is exactly what happened with the passing of Tom Freeland of Oxford, who died last Saturday at a young 59 years.

Tom first came to my attention as a reporting attorney on Jan Goodrich’s FOLO blog (now defunct). That blog bird-dogged various legal issues, and especially all of the litigation in which Dickie Scruggs was embroiled leading up to his spectacular criminal flame-out in 2007. Tom filled in important details for those following the cases, especially the criminal cases. Tom’s reporting was even referenced by the NYT in its reportage of the Scruggs affairs.

Tom began his own blog, NMissCommentor, in which he continued to share details of the Scruggs cases. He served up a large helping of entertaining general interest, as well. He posted about the Mississippi blues performers and blues culture, Mississippi music and musicians, and Mississippi writers. He talked about local food and recipes. There was political commentary, legal analysis, literary discussion, and general humor. His posts always drew a lively exchange of comments.

Tom was not only a blogger. He was a well-respected litigator and counselor who mentored many a young lawyer.

In sum, Tom was a civilized man and accomplished attorney who cared deeply about his home state and spoke through his blog to try to influence others.

The last time I saw Tom was last October the Friday before the Ole Miss – Alabama game. I had gotten an email from his wife, Joyce, inviting us to a soiree at their office off the Square in Oxford. Tom had hired a blues band to perform on the lawn in front of his law office, and the event was to honor former Gov. William Winter, who spoke to the assembled throng. There was a nice crowd. Many law students and recent law graduates were there. When Tom learned that we had in tow with us a couple who were Alabama fans, but were big Faulkner fans, too, Tom took time away from his other guests to take us on a tour of his office, which Faulkner frequented as a friend and client of Phil Stone, Tom’s dad’s law partner. Tom spun tales about Faulkner and Oxford, and had our bama friends in thrall. That was quintessential Tom, as I understand from his other friends who knew him far better than I did.

It’s hard to conceive that there will be no new, pithy posts on Tom’s blog to look forward to every week. I can’t imagine that there is another Mississippi blogger who could step into Tom’s shoes and offer a comparable range of insight into issues and things that matter to us in our state.

That’s a shame. There are niche legal blogs like this one, Philip Thomas’s, Jane Tucker’s, and Judge Griffis’s, and there is the acerbic and enigmatic Anderson. There are legal marketing blogs. But there is no one out there now with the breadth of Tom’s interests. He will be sorely missed. Sincere condolences to Joyce, their family, friends, colleagues, and staff.

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