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CNN Legal Commentator, Famed Defense Attorney Tragically Dies

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Page Pate, a prominent defense attorney and longtime CNN legal contributor, has died at 55.

Pate died after being swept out to sea by a rip current off the coast of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where the family has a home. Glynn County Fire-Rescue Acting Chief Vinnie confirmed that Pate was swimming with his teenage son off the island when the current pulled him out.

Pate’s son was able to reach shore safely.

“In memory of our friend and CNN contributor Page Pate. May his memory be a blessing. Thinking of his wife Elizabeth, his sons Chatham and Asher, his parents Robert and Mary Elizabeth, and his brother Lane,” CNN’s Poppy Harlow tweeted.

“First responders received a call about two swimmers in distress at Gould’s Inlet beach, just after 2 p.m., said DiCristofalo, who confirmed the two swimmers were Pate and his son,” CNN reported.

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“A rescue boat pulled Pate from the water and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, DiCristofalo said. Gould’s Inlet beach is known for its rip currents, according to DiCristofalo.

“I don’t have direct information whether they were together and got drawn out,” added DiCristofalo.

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“Once the shock wears off, it’s just hurt,” his law firm, Pate, Johnson and Church, said in a statement. “And there’s no easy way about getting rid of that, except for time and grieving. “Though he was a formidable, sometimes intimidating, attorney in the courtroom, Page had an easy smile, an earnest laugh, and a great sense of humor.”

He was also “a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project” and “a member of the Federal and Atlanta Bar Associations, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association,” along with “numerous other organizations dedicated to advancing justice and the legal profession,” the law firm added.

“Some of Page’s happiest moments were on trips with his sons, whether long hikes on the West Coast or taking in Nascar races,” said the statement from his law firm.

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“He graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School in 1994. Pate was a trusted legal voice for many local and national media organizations, including CNN, where he appeared frequently to provide insight and perspective as a criminal defense and constitutional law attorney on high-profile cases,” CNN reported.

The Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a statement saying its members were “shocked and saddened to hear the news of Page Pate’s passing. The GACDL community sends thoughts of peace and comfort to his family and friends. Page was a larger-than-life person and attorney.”

He was a “fierce advocate for the criminally accused and unjustly convicted,” the organization said in a statement.
“Above all else, we will remember Page’s kindness and generosity, always willing to give anything he could to help, whether it be a personal matter or professional, and never asking for anything in return,” the organization said.

“The Georgia Innocence Project family is heartbroken at the passing of our dear friend, colleague, and board member,” GIP said in a statement. “A fierce advocate for the criminally accused and unjustly convicted, Page was a visionary founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project 20 years ago. He remained active with our organization over the years, consulting on cases, advising on media strategies, and raising awareness about wrongful convictions and GIP’s work.”

“Above all else, we will remember Page’s kindness and generosity, always willing to give anything he could to help, whether it be a personal matter or professional, and never asking for anything in return,” they added.

“He was the ultimate professional and an even better person. I could always count on Page for sound legal analysis at a moments notice. I will forever be grateful to this man,” CBS 46 reporter Adam Murphy tweeted.

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