George Landon Phillips, former United States Attorney, Southern District of Mississippi 1980 to 1994, died January 26, 2015. He is survived by his wife Nicole and three children, Garrison, Margaret, and Mary. He had battled esophageal cancer since July 2013. His primary residence was Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Since the early 1980s, he also maintained a ranch residence 200 miles west of Denver, out from Silt, Colorado; he named the spread Redwing from the turn of century song by the same name. Over the years and particularly in recent years, he and Nicole and the children have worked, lived, and played part time on their farm out from Hattiesburg and part time at Redwing Ranch.
Upon receiving his law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1973, George returned to Hattiesburg where he practiced law and served as a county prosecuting attorney. In 1980, he was appointed the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. At the time of his appointment, George was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the United States. Bringing his background in local law enforcement to the forefront, he became a major player in the development of Law Enforcement Coordinating Committees (LECC), a program that became mandated for all U.S. Attorneys’ Office, and for which he received national appreciation. George served two terms on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC), 1981-1982 and 1988-1991. He is remembered for being instrumental in designing the official flag for the Office of theUnited States Attorney.
George made the fight against public corruption a priority, especially corruption in local and state government. During his tenure, in a major nationally-recognized undercover operation into county corruption involving federal program funds, seminal case law interpreting the enforcement and scope of §666, Title 18, in application to local and state government officials and agents was developed. George earned the well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s leading U.S. Attorneys in the fight against public corruption. He served until 1994, leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office as the most senior U.S. Attorney in service. The Congressional Record of 1994 commends George for his outstanding law enforcement accomplishments. During his term as United States Attorney, he served four Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (two terms), George H.W. Bush and William Clinton.
Following service as U.S. Attorney, George served as Special Counsel to Mississippi senior Senator Thad Cochran (R) for six years. However, law enforcement service was his first passion and he answered the call by acceptance of the position of Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Governor Haley Barbour recognized George’s exceptional leadership qualities and then appointed George the Commissioner of Public Safety, the top State law enforcement position. He served with distinction as Top Cop in the monumental emergency disaster efforts addressing the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in August 2005. In 2008, President George W.Bush appointed George to the position of Mississippi State Director for USDA Rural Development, his last position of public office, ending an outstanding career of public service.
Although retired from public service, for the last three years George has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), an organization of which he has been a member of and served for more than 30 years. A lifelong steadfast horseman, he was a dedicated participant in the affairs and projects of the AQHA, having served as a National Director since 2002. For a number of years preceding his death, George and Nicole dedicated a major portion of their daily lives and activities to the AQHA. The AQHA has been near and dear to his heart for most of his adult life.
A memorial service will be held on February 3, at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. As is our custom, NAFUSA arranged for an American flag to be flown over Main Justice and it will be presented to George’s family at the memorial service by NAFUSA member James Tucker, a close friend and colleague of George and his family.