Matlock Goes After Sheriff Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith as attorney Ben Matlock (left) and as Sheriff Andy Taylor (right)

Andy Griffith (1926-2012) was well known as the actor who played Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, and the brilliant Attorney Ben Matlock on Matlock. Anyone looking into the courtroom in 2006 might have thought these two fictional characters had some to life and were battling against each other in the landmark case of Andy Griffith v Andy Griffith. 

The lawsuit, filed November 3, 2006 in U.S. District Court in Madison, targeted William Harold Fenrick, who had recently changed his name to Andy Griffith and then used his new name to promote his candidacy for sheriff in southwestern Wisconsin. The lawsuit claimed that the erstwhile Fenrick violated trademark and copyright laws, as well as the privacy of actor Andy Samuel Griffith, when he used his new name. (Source)

Unfortunately, Matlock suffered an almost-unheard-of loss when the federal judge ruled against the actor. Judge John Shabaz determined that the actor was unlikely to suffer financial harm and that voters were unlikely to be confused about whom they were voting for. (Source)

Although victorious in the lawsuit, Fenrick/Griffith didn’t fare nearly as well at the ballot box.  He took about 7.5% of the vote and finished far behind the Republican incumbent.

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