Crites, Shaffer, Connealy, Watson
& Patras, PC, LLO
Attorneys at Law

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Firm History

This law firm is the oldest established business in Chadron, Nebraska; it was established in 1887 and has been serving the northern panhandle region ever since.

George D. Watson, Jr., 1949 - 2010
George was a native of Bridgeport, Nebraska. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Hastings College in 1972, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1975. He was the author of numerous articles published in various legal journals and magazines, as well as the book “Prairie Justice: A One Hundred Year Legal Study of Chadron and Dawes County.” George served on the Nebraska Governor’s Commission on Alternatives to Incarceration; the Governor’s Commission on Industry Within the Nebraska Prison System; the Nebraska Police Standards Advisory Council (appointed by Gov. Nelson, 1994-1998; reappointed by Gov. Johanns, 1999-2005); and served as a member of the Nebraska Crime Commission, 1999-2000. He was president of the Board of Directors of the Museum of the Fur Trade, Chadron, NE; a trustee of the Nebraska Children’s Home Society; a board member of the Nebraska Children’s Foundation and a former member of the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities. George was a member and past president of the Chadron Rotary Club, and a Paul Harris fellow. George practiced law in Chadron for over 32 years. He was also a Professor in Justice Studies at Chadron State College.

  Russ Harford, Member of the Firm from 1989 to 2009
Native of the Black Hills of South Dakota; Bachelor of Arts from University of Maryland, 1975; Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling from Chadron State College, 1983; Juris Doctorate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1987; Chadron assistant city attorney, 1988-1989; Box Butte deputy county attorney, 1988-1989; Hay Springs city attorney, 1993-present; Rushville city attorney, 1996 to present; Chadron Public Schools Foundation treasurer; member of Chadron Planning Commission; Chadron Rotary Club, past president; Dawes County Crimestoppers board member; D.A.R.E. board member.  In July 2009, Russ was appointed to the bench by Governor Dave Heineman, and began his judicial career as a Judge on the County Court of the 12th Judicial District on September 1, 2009.

Gordon W. Shaffer, Jr., 1924 - 1991
Born in Wood River, Illinois; received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri in 1949; admitted to the Missouri bar in 1949; admitted to the Nebraska bar in 1954, when he moved to Chadron to join his brother-in-law Albert in practice.

Albert (Wally) Crites, 1915-1985
Born in Chadron, Nebraska; son of Frederick; educated in Chadron public schools, attended Chadron State College, the University of Nebraska, and received his law degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1949. He was a veteran of World War II. He joined the family firm in 1949. He served as Chadron City Attorney from 1950 to 1953. In 1959, Albert was named District Judge, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, A.W.; he was elected to a 4-year term in 1960. In 1963, he entered an order that would prevent courts from being open on Saturdays, thus ending a long-standing Dawes County tradition. Albert's death in 1985 ended three generations of lawyers in the firm, although the firm's work was carried on by his brother-in-law, Gordon Shaffer, who was married to Albert's sister, Marian.

Frederick Crites, 1885-1941
Born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska; son of A.W., brother of Edwin; educated in Chadron public schools and the University of Nebraska; admitted to the bar of the supreme court and lower courts in June 1913, and later to the bar of the circuit and district courts of the U.S.  He served as Dawes County Attorney for 12 years, from 1919-1930.

Edwin D. Crites, 1884-1953
Born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska; son of A.W., brother of Frederick; educated in Chadron public schools and the University of Nebraska; admitted to the bar in June 1908. After his father's death in 1915, he was in partnership with his brother Frederick. After Frederick passed away, his nephew, A.W., joined the firm. He practiced law in Chadron from 1908 until his death in 1953. He served as president of the State Normal Board for a number of years and Crites Hall, on the CSC campus, is named for him. He also served as Dawes County Attorney and Chadron City Attorney, and was a special attorney for the U.S. Dept. of Justice from 1936 to 1937.

Albert W. (A.W.) Crites, 1848-1915
Born in Waterford, Wisconsin; studied law in the office of Judge Hand in Racine, Wisconsin, and was admitted to the bar of Wisconsin in 1872. Founder of the firm, he moved to Chadron from Wisconsin in 1887 when he was appointed the first Receiver of Public Moneys at the U.S. Land Office in Chadron. He was appointed by Governor Boyd to fill the second position as Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial District in 1891. He continued to practice law in Chadron after his run for judge was defeated in November 1891.

DISCLAIMER:  Information on this web site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal advice or applicable to any specific factual situation. This firm's practice is limited to Nebraska.

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