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Colorful, quick-witted Pinellas Judge Patrick Caddell dies at 60

A mentor to many, Judge Patrick Caddell was “the Yoda of judges,” says Chief Judge Thomas McGrady.  

Times (1997)

A mentor to many, Judge Patrick Caddell was “the Yoda of judges,” says Chief Judge Thomas McGrady. 

Longtime Pinellas County Judge Patrick Caddell, known for his quick wit on and off the bench, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 60.

"He was kind of the Yoda of judges," said Thomas McGrady, chief judge for the Pinellas-Pasco circuit.

Caddell had been a mentor to him and many others, offering tips on how to be a good and effective judge. "It was all good advice," McGrady said.

Caddell, who was elected county judge in 1986 and was the county's administrative judge, also was well known for his somewhat acerbic sense of humor

In 1987, shortly after Caddell was elected, an irate business owner flew an airplane over downtown St. Petersburg with a banner that read: "Judge Caddell lies from the bench — violates civil rights — Is he fit to stay on the bench?"

Afterward, Caddell quipped: "I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of it for my mom. She always said I'd be famous someday."

When Caddell recently ruled a portion of St. Petersburg's sign ordinance was unconstitutional, the St. Petersburg doctor who challenged the law stood up and thanked him "for recognizing the natural born rights I have of free speech."

Caddell dryly responded: "It's what I do for a living. Don't think you're anything special."

This was cited this month when Caddell received the Clearwater Bar Association's George W. Greer Judicial Independence Award. Caddell was too sick to accept the award in person, but he greatly appreciated it and wrote some remarks for McGrady to read aloud:

"I cannot imagine a higher award to which any judge could aspire than to be deemed 'independent' by his or her profession."

Caddell also was chairman of the Pinellas County Canvassing Board, which supervises election procedures. "No one cared more about ensuring the integrity of election results," Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said in a statement.

McGrady said the news of Caddell's passing came as a shock. "We all knew he was sick. … We were cautiously optimistic that he could beat the cancer and be back. It came much quicker than any of us thought."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Times staff writers Anne Lindberg and Craig Pittman contributed to this report.

>>Fast facts

Straight from the judge

Quotes over the years from Judge Patrick Caddell:

"If I'd have known I was going to have this high-profile stuff, I'd have at least worn clean underwear."

— Commenting in 1995 on the presence of two reporters and a photographer in his courtroom to cover the trial of a middle school teacher charged with committing a lewd act.

"There are two types of people in this world: those of us blessed to live in Belleair Shore and the rest of the scum that inhabits the Earth."

— Commenting in 1997 in the case of a former mayor of that town who was found guilty of battery.

"Obviously, the potatoes had the thickest skin of anyone that day."

— Commenting in 2008 during a case involving a 76-year-old woman arrested after arguing with a police officer over whether she blocked the drive-through lane at a McDonald's while waiting for french fries.

Colorful, quick-witted Pinellas Judge Patrick Caddell dies at 60 05/27/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:50pm]
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