OPD Honors Clyde Merritt

Clyde Merritt 2011OPD recently honored one of the stalwart advocates for public defense, Clyde Merritt, with the eponymous "Clyde Merritt Award."  The award, recognizing commitment and fight for the cause of indigent defense, was established this year in his honor and will be awarded annually.

Mr. Clyde, as we called him, practiced law for 49 years, 12 years under former District Attorney Jim Garrison and 37 as a defense attorney, and was an inveterate part of OPD.  He was always ready and willing to answer the call for his own clients, prep defense theories with other attorneys and talk about his past antics in the courthouse.   He had a tenacity and command of the courtroom that just couldn't be taught.  Mr. Clyde was the first person in the office and always the last one to leave.  Weekends were just another day to work, often pajama-clad and with one of his beloved dogs in tow. 

"You doing alright? Say yeah," greeted everyone he passed.  Former colleagues remember his incredible knowledge of the law, and the oftentimes harsh reality of it, which gave him great empathy for his clients.  Mr. Clyde really, truly cared about his clients and often went beyond the call of duty.  He embraced the idea that he would go to jail for his clients, and often was held in contempt.  That just simply was part of his role as an attorney. 

Mr. Clyde embodied the concept of a public defender - to stand next to the person who has no one left to stand next to him.  And Mr. Clyde did. 

Read more about Mr. Clyde's life work at NOLA.com

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