Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson remembers Charles “Brick” Dickerson as someone with a big heart, a lawyer’s lawyer who helped everyone.
But he also loved to aggravate attorneys, Davidson said.
“Just, by God, aggravate,” Davidson said. “Just put you at your wit’s end. In a jury trial, he’d stand up behind me and question the witness trying to upset me and just the hardest way of doing stuff. Judge Bailey and I both said if we had to be involved with Charles, we had rather be against him than we had with him because he always wanted to do stuff what we thought was the hard way.”
Dickerson died Saturday in Tyler. He was 76.
Funeral services are scheduled Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Deadwood Cemetery under the direction of Hawthorn Funeral Home.
Dickerson was born in July 1942 in Deadwood, attending Carthage High School, Panola College, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Stephen F. Austin State University and the Southwestern College of Law.
He served in the National Guard, served as the county attorney and was a longtime Panola County lawyer before being elected judge for the 123rd District Court in 2012, serving both Panola and Shelby Counties for four years. He was succeeded in the district judge position by current Judge LeAnn Rafferty.
Those who have practiced law in Panola County over the years remember Dickerson as “a bit of a throwback,” as Carthage Attorney Rick McPherson said.
“He was from the old school, back when you were expected to be able to handle whatever came into the office and represent families and people from the cradle to the grave and expected to be competent at doing it. And he was,” McPherson said. “He helped all kinds of people on all kinds of cases and was darn competent at everything he did.”
Panola County Court at Law Judge Terry Bailey attended law school with Dickerson, a year behind. Bailey was “a great friend, he was an extremely knowledgeable attorney and I have so many fine memories of working with him and against him over the 40-plus years he practiced law here in Carthage,” Bailey said.
“I listened to his counsel then, and I’ve listened to his counsel since,” Bailey said.
Bailey said Dickerson worked hard for his clients and as a judge — but he also made time for his family and his non-work interests, like hunting.
McPherson echoed comments from others that Dickerson served as a mentor and resource to other attorneys in the area.
“One thing I’ll remember about Brick is how generous he was with other lawyers,” McPherson said. “He had this marvelous pile of forms that he was always ready to share with people. He had a form for everything, always ready to visit with you about your case and offer suggestions and give you a lot of good, valuable guidance. He was a great friend to all the lawyers around here, certainly he was to me. He’s sure going to be missed.”
David Moore, a Longview lawyer and past president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, called Dickerson’s death “a big blow for the East Texas legal community.”
“As a criminal defense lawyer, he was always creative, innovative and unpredictable. But one thing you could count on is that he would always fight hard for his client,” Moore said. “Then as a judge, he certainly was not afraid to make tough decisions. I think he always had the courage to do what he thought was right regardless of the fallout. He could be tough when he needed to be, but I believe he always tried to treat those who came in front of him with grace and dignity. They just don’t make them like Brick anymore. He was certainly one of a kind, and I’m going to miss him.”
As a district judge, McPherson said Dickerson felt duty bound to both sides.
“He was fair to everybody; it didn’t matter if you were the plantiff or defendant or you were the state’s attorney or the lawyer representing the defendant,” McPherson said. “You knew you were going to get a fair shake. He would follow the law, and he didn’t care who got upset about it. The law was the law, and he was a follower. So the times I was before him, he was just as much concerned in seeing that my client, usually a criminal client, my client’s rights were protected. He took all of that very seriously.”
“He was going to make sure that every defendant had his day in court and had his rights respected. There are a lot of things I admired about the way he did business, and that was certainly one of them,” McPherson said.