Recognizing and Remembering James M. Shellow

NACDL Board of Directors resolved to honor James M. Shellow.

The NACDL Board of Directors recognizes, remembers, and honors Past President James M. Shellow, a brilliant and relentless advocate for justice and his:

Extraordinary commitment to the defense function and mission of NACDL;

Extraordinary and legendary talent, impressive and innovative skills as a fierce criminal defense, constitutional, and civil rights lawyer;

Extraordinary and fearless defenses of a wide and diverse group of accused from members of the American Indian Movement charged in the occupation of Wounded Knee; to the representation of leaders, protestors, and the accused of Vietnam Anti-War actions and protests; to alleged organized crime bosses, and all manner of others accused of crimes at trial and on appeal including cases before the U.S. Supreme Court;

Reputation for repeatedly challenging conventional practices, erasing perceived boundaries, rejecting the status quo, and developing and expanding techniques and defenses, including as the founder of the chemical “isomer” defense, earning his rightful, national, and historic legendary status as a cross-examiner extraordinaire who wrote “the book” on questioning forensic analysts: “Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions;”

Dedicated and life-long mentorship to countless young lawyers literally and figuratively giving birth to a generation of criminal defense lawyers, and as evidence that criminal defense was in his DNA, he and his beloved wife and law partner Gilda Shellow, raised their two daughters Jill and Robin Shellow to become esteemed criminal defense lawyers;

Unyielding dedication to educating younger lawyers which manifested early and institutionally as a co-founder and generous funder of, and perennial teacher at, the National Criminal Defense College and in his 9th decade continued with the establishment of an informal “Shellow School” where he met with young lawyers and graciously and generously gave his time to discuss their legal issues, formulate strategies, support and inspire them to excel;


Instrumental role and catalytic influence in transforming a small band of NACDL lawyers and proposing that NACDL expand the Board, open an office and hire staff in order to become “a force of justice” which he then supported generously forming the foundation upon which NACDL was built;

Extraordinary talent, legendary and impressive skills, and love for NACDL which were only matched by his devilish and infectious joy for life.

BE IT RESOLVED this 4th day of March 2023 in New Orleans,
Louisiana, that the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers recognizes, remembers, and honors the extraordinary brilliance, dedication, good works, and talent of Past President James M. Shellow as a giant of our profession, legendary and fearless advocate, cherished friend, colleague, and a true original (NACDL’s “OG”).

Explore keywords to find information

Featured Products