Jerry Stokes of Memphis, a 49-year-old attorney and former divorce referee, was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen Monday as the successor to retired Circuit Court judge George Brown. The governor's office released the following statement announcing the appointment:

NASHVILLE-- Governor Phil Bredesen today announced that Memphis attorney Jerry Stokes will fill a vacancy in division six of the 30th Judicial District’s Circuit Court, created by the retirement of George H. Brown, Jr. The 30th Judicial District Circuit Court covers Shelby County.

“Jerry Stokes has more than 20 years experience working in private practice and is highly regarded in the Shelby County legal community,” said Bredesen. “Through his years practicing law, Jerry has proven himself committed to the improvement of the legal system in Tennessee and has worked diligently to represent those who may not otherwise have had access to the courts system in Shelby County. I have great confidence that he will serve the citizens of the 30th Judicial District with fairness and integrity.”

Stokes has been practicing law since 1981, working in private practice with Stokes, Wilson and Wright Law Firm. The firm handles mostly personal injury, debtors’ bankruptcy, criminal defense and plaintiff cases. Stokes has also worked as a part-time assistant divorce referee for Shelby County since 1998, when he was appointed by then Mayor Jim Rout. He has also served more than 100 times as special judge in the General Sessions Criminal Court of Shelby County.

“I’m overwhelmed and honored that the Governor has appointed me to this position,” said Stokes. “I certainly appreciate his confidence in me, and will do all I can to serve the citizens of the 30th Judicial District to the best of my abilities.”

Stokes, 49, holds a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and filming from the University of Memphis and earned his doctor of jurisprudence degree from Southern University, Baton Rouge. He is a member of the National Bar Association’s Ben F. Jones Chapter and the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association. In 2003-2004, Stokes received the highest rating among divorce referees (8.9 out of 10) in a survey commissioned by the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association. From September of 2003 to February of 2005, Stokes served on the Speedy Trial Plan Committee Task Force at the request of Judge James Todd, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western Division of Tennessee.

Stokes’ appointment is effective immediately, and he will stand for election to a full 8-year term in 2006.

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