John Rogers Carroll


John Rogers Carroll, a longtime criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia and helping hand to fellow lawyers suffering from addiction, died Tuesday morning at the age of 89.

Carroll’s expansive career included representing defendants caught up in the communist hysteria of the “Red Scare” in the 1950s, such as Philadelphia teachers fired for pleading their Fifth Amendment right before congressional committees, as well those accused of advocating violent overthrow of the government under the Smith Act.

But Carroll was also widely known in the Pennsylvania legal community for his efforts to help attorneys dealing with drug addiction and alcoholism. After dealing with alcoholism in his own life and legal career, Carroll started a telephone help line along with a group of friends to assist fellow attorneys in their battles with addiction.

He went on to chair the Lawyers’ and Judges’ Assistance Committee, formed by the Philadelphia Bar Association to help addicted lawyers. He was a founding member and served as director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and in 2002, he became a founding board member of the M. Patricia Carroll Fund, named in honor of his wife. The fund provides money necessary for treatment to Pennsylvania’s judges, lawyers and law students dealing with addiction and mental health disorders, directly channeling donations to those in need.

Mark Sheppard, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said Carroll’s legacy lives on in all those lawyers who knew him.

“There are really two legacies,” Sheppard said. “One is his incredible talent as a criminal defense lawyer—truly one of the smartest, most prepared lawyers I have ever had the privilege of practicing with. And despite having an incredibly busy practice, John still found time to help just about every lawyer in this town who has struggled with addiction over the last 30 years, including me.”

Sheppard, who represented co-defendants of clients Carroll represented in cases going as far back as the Roofers’ Union scandal in the 1980s, added, “Not only was I fortunate enough to practice law with him, when I knew that I needed help the person I called was John Rogers Carroll. And for that I’ll be forever grateful.”