Estes, Jerry N.

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Address: 296 W. Madison Avenue, Athens, TN 37303
Lawyer Firm: Estes & Kennedy Law Offices, P.L.L.C.
Phone: 423-507-1157
Fax: 423-507-8266

Areas of Practice

In 1951 Jerry Estes was born the youngest of six children to hard-working poor parents who knew the value of education. Surrounded by parents and siblings who struggled to make ends meet, he learned at an early age that education was a key to improving his life.

Jerry’s leadership skills were demonstrated at Sweetwater High School where he was active in 4-H, served two years as State President and one year as National President of the Future Business Leaders of America. In 1969 he graduated and entered the University of Tennessee-Knoxville majoring in Agri-business.

His leadership skills continued to blossom at UT-K where he served as President of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa and several other honorary organizations, and was selected a Torchbearer, which is the highest honor given a UT-K senior. In 1973 he received his Bachelor of Science degree with honors, and enrolled in the UT-K College of Law where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1976.

Upon receiving his law degree, Jerry came to Athens, Tennessee to practice law where he was admitted to the state and federal bars. He was engaged in the general practice of law that included representing the McMinn County Board of Education, the City of Niota and the Liberty Bank. During this time his practice involved such areas of law as titles, property, business, construction, education, municipal, banking, wills, estates, trusts, probate, family, bankruptcy, criminal and civil litigation.

In 1981 Jerry married Robin Hall, a high school teacher of family and consumer sciences. The couple have two children, Will and Rachel, and are members of Keith Memorial United Methodist Church.

In 1982, Jerry defeated a ten year incumbent to become the youngest District Attorney General in Tennessee, and he was reelected each time he ran. After 24 years of public service, he did not seek re-election in 2006. In the 170 year history of the four county district, only one other person ever served longer in the position. When he left public service, Jerry presided over a staff of 14 attorneys plus support staff, located in three offices across the district, with a $1.3 million annual budget.

During Jerry’s watch, he and his staff processed over 400,000 criminal warrants, disposed of over 44,000 indicted cases in criminal court, saw five new jails built increasing bed capacity from approximately 130 to over 900 beds, and sent 6 convicted murderers to death row, while statistics showed high conviction rates coupled with low reduction rates.

Jerry’s leadership in the community and in criminal prosecutions also helped bring about the establishment of the following:

Southeast Tennessee community corrections programs requiring offenders to work to repay victims and the community;One of the state’s first child advocacy centers which helps over 300 child abuse clients each year;The oldest continually active drug task force in the state which has collected millions of dollars for local communities, removed drugs from the streets and put drug offenders in jail;A drug court to hold accountable and rehabilitate drug offenders;Two victims assistance centers;The statewide ‘Meth is Death’ public outreach campaign;Grants for a gun prosecution program, a stop violence against women program and a D.U.I. program;and many other community prosecution efforts.

Jerry has served as President of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, the Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors, and Tennessee Director on the National District Attorneys Association Board of Directors. He was the only state prosecutor in the United States to originally serve on the FBI National Steering Committee for the Regional Forensic Computer Laboratory program; and was 1 of only 5 state prosecutors asked by the Department of Justice to write a guide for crime scene investigations in the wake of the Jon Benet Ramsey and O. J. Simpson cases. He has received the distinguished James G. Hughes Award from the Memphis Child Advocacy Center, and served on committees charged with reviewing and improving ethics rules for lawyers.

A few notable service positions are as follows:

Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, President 1996-1998, Ethics Committee 2000-2003, Vice-President 1995-1996, Secretary-Treasurer 194-1995, Public Education Committee 2005-2006, Executive Committee 1983-1984 1988-1989 2001-2002, Computer Committee 1985, Child Sexual Abuse Task Force 1984Tennessee Bar Association Board of Governors 1996-1998, Task Force on Drug and Alcohol Abuse 1985National District Attorneys Association Tennessee Director Board of Directors 2002-2006, Victim Services Committee Co-chair 2002-2004National Crime Victims Law Institute at Lewis & Clark Law SchoolInternational Association of Prosecutors, past memberNational Lawyers AssociationAmerican Bar Association, past memberMcMinn/Meigs Bar Association Vice President 1978-1979

Jerry has worked as a private consultant for the National Institute of Corrections to the California Department of Corrections; consultant to the U.S. Forest Service; and invited by the FBI to attend the prestigious Information Technology Study Group. He has been a criminal justice advisor to United States Senators Lamar Alexander, Bill Frist (former Majority Leader) and Fred Thompson. He has been cross-designated to prosecute federal drug and gambling cases, and was a member of the Ocoee Whitewater Venue security group for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.

Several professional magazines have published his writings, and Jerry wrote a bi-weekly newspaper column in a daily newspaper for five years. For 17 years Jerry hosted the most listened to local weekly radio talk show in it’s time slot that included such guests as the prosecutors of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, and the belt-way sniper. He has lectured and taught extensively for the National College for District Attorneys, Cleveland State Community College Police Academy and numerous other groups. His numerous manuals and technical writings have been adopted by many of his peers in the legal profession.

Recently, Jerry became approved, by the Tennessee Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, as a Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediator.

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