Published on February 24th, 2015 | by TLV News0
Oxford, Mississippi Attorney, Blogger, Music Fan, and Critic… Tom Freeland Has Passed Away
Thomas Henry Freeland, IV, 59, died Saturday, February 21, 2015 at Oshner Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
A funeral service will be held Friday, February 27, 2015 at 11:00 am at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford with Rev. Wil Howie officiating. Burial will follow in Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at Waller Funeral Home in Oxford, Mississippi.
Tom practiced law in Oxford for 33 years, first with his father Hal Freeland and in the last eleven years with Hal and his wife, Joyce Freeland. He practiced at the historic Freeland & Freeland law office off the Square in Oxford, where Hal went into practice with Phil Stone, William Faulkner’s literary mentor, in the 1950’s.
Tom was passionate about defending his clients and causes, cooking (the more complicated the project the better), whole hog barbecue, blues music, Mississippi history, and politics.
He was an exceptional lawyer. With his father Hal, he took the Papasan v. Allain case to the U.S. Supreme Court and prevailed. The Fifth Circuit quoted his statement of the case in a 1984 death penalty appeal for Larry Jones as a textbook example of skillful lawyering: “The patent frivolousness of [the State’s] argument is nicely focused by [Mr. Freeland’s] statement of the issue: “Should Enmund be applied retroactively, or should the state be permitted one last cruel and unusual punishment before Enmund takes effect?”
He has been a long-term supporter and member of the Board of the Mississippi Innocence Project. He and his father enjoyed working with law students and young lawyers and were trusted for advice on difficult legal issues by many throughout the state.
He was asked to speak on the music of Mississippi bluesman, Robert Johnson, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, debunking claims that a recently surfaced film was Robert Johnson rather than a film of an unknown blues musician after Johnson’s death.
He has written for publications including Living Blues, The Oxford American, Blues & Rhythm, and The Mississippi Lawyer on blues and other traditional music, Faulkner’s lawyers, local history, and barbecue.
Many people in Mississippi and beyond know Tom Freeland as NMissCommentor based on his blog that focused on legal issues, politics, blues, and Mississippi culture.
He was known for his five-minute tours of the Freeland & Freeland law office, a building that has served as a law office since the 1880’s and has extensive Faulkner connections. The building appears in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.
He will be missed by many.
Mr. Freeland is survived by his wife, Joyce Freeland of Oxford, MS; his daughter, Sarah Freeland Simonson and her husband, Brian Simonson of New Orleans, LA; his son, Thomas Henry Freeland, V of New Orleans, LA; his mother, Judith Hale Freeland of Oxford, MS; his brother John Hale Freeland of Oxford, MS; and sister Lee Freeland Hancock of Tyler, TX.
He is predeceased by a brother, Robert Freeland and his father Thomas Henry Freeland, III, both of Oxford, Mississippi.
Here is a short film made by Tom Freeland’s daughter Sarah Simonson on Phil Stone, William Faulkner, and the Freeland connection.
Family, Friends and Colleagues Remember Tom Freeland
We lament the passing of Attorney Tom Freeland of Oxford, a great friend of Democrats everywhere.
— MS Democratic Party (@msdemocrats) February 22, 2015
We’ve lost a smart and funny agitator. Our friend Tom Freeland has passed. We miss you already, Tom. — MS Democratic Trust (@MSDemTrust) February 21, 2015
A great friend period RT @msdemocrats: We lament the passing of attorney Tom Freeland of Oxford, a great friend of Democrats everywhere.
— John T Edge (@johntedge) February 22, 2015
— Marshall Ramsey (@MarshallRamsey) February 21, 2015
Being from Hazlehurst, I know a lot about Robert Johnson. Tom Freeland knew three times more than me. It was embarrassing, but it was Tom.
— Adam Ganucheau (@GanucheauAdam) February 22, 2015
Re Tom Freeland: I hope his obit discusses the impact of his legal career, ex. Papasan v Allain, Griffin v State.
— Danny Lampley (@DannyLampley) February 22, 2015
Oh wow. Rest in Peace Tom Freeland. One of the great liberal voices in Oxford. — Rob Cornelius (@BentleyTock) February 21, 2015