Friends remember Judge Jere White
by Matt Shinall and Marie Nesmith
Oct 04, 2011 | 5242 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former District Attorney and Superior Court Judge Jere Field White passed away Monday on St. Simon's Island. White served Bartow County and north Georgia for more than 20 years.

Bartow County Administrator Steve Bradley worked alongside White as a colleague practicing law at the 1903 Gold Dome Courthouse.

"We were very sad to learn about his passing. Judge White meant a lot to our community, both as attorney and as Solicitor General, which now is called District Attorney -- he served in that capacity, and also as superior court judge. He was outstanding in all of those efforts on behalf of the community. He always zealously represented his clients and he was an effective prosecutor when he served in that capacity," Bradley said. "He was an outstanding judge. He was a fair man on the bench and he took the role of superior court judge seriously but he also could interject a sense of humor into proceedings that would sometimes take the edge off the tension.

"His decisions were always well thought through and always seemed to get at, as he often said, 'the meat of the coconut,' cutting out the superfluous things and getting to the heart of the matter. He knew how to move a trial along but making sure the trial was conducted in a fair and equitable way."

For David Archer, an attorney and managing partner of Archer & Lovell P.C. in Cartersville, White's influence was far reaching, impacting both the Cherokee Judicial Circuit and practicing lawyers.

"I would describe him as a consummate Southern gentleman," Archer said. "He had a smoothness about him. He had a good legal mind. He had the ability to quickly find the heart of matters and to focus on the relevant and important facts in law on any case that he either handled as a lawyer or decided as a judge. I think he had a very positive influence on the legal system and the judicial system of the Cherokee Judicial Circuit. He mentored a lot of lawyers, a lot of young lawyers that would come in and practice, including me. ... He was in sort of the middle of his practice when I came back to Cartersville in 1970.

"He had a private practice handling family law plus criminal law and doing estate matters. He had a very successful practice. He had been a prosecutor in the Cherokee Judicial Circuit and of course he eventually wound up being superior court [judge] of the Cherokee Judicial Circuit. I think most lawyers who tried a case before him, if they were prepared and if they knew their case, had a positive experience with him. He didn't much like lawyers that came in that weren't very prepared. He'd let you know it. But he was a very good man."

Describing White as a "gentleman" and "ethical," Bradley too noted that White had a knack for working with young attorneys helping them hone their craft. Bradley recalled times in the courtroom during which White entertained with stories from his past.

"I use to love to hear him tell some of the court stories he accumulated over the years. He was a master story teller and while we were waiting on juries to return sometimes with their verdicts, he would hold a session and tell stories of days gone by of things that happened in court. He could tell some that would just keep you in stitches and others that would bring a tear to your eye," Bradley said. "He certainly has meant a lot to this community and I don't know any lawyer or courthouse employee that didn't think a lot of Judge White."

Also passing Monday due to an unrelated illness was White's son, John Field White Jr., 56, of Birmingham, Ala. White Jr. was an accomplished attorney in Alabama and founding partner of Lightfoot, Franklin and White.

"I knew [White Jr.] too while he was around," Bradley said. "And he was just like his dad. He was a fine human being."

Services will be held for White Sr. in Cartersville on Thursday. See Wednesday's issue of The Daily Tribune News for details. Services for White Jr. will be held in Birmingham on Wednesday. Details can be found in today's obituaries.