Jerry Barksdale claims that his Mama birthed him to be a preacher. He was delivered on the kitchen table in tiny Estill Springs, Tennessee on a cold November 3rd morning in 1941. Total cost of prenatal care, doctor and nurse in attendance and postnatal care was $45.00. An exorbitant charge considering that he was an ugly baby. Unfortunately, he was born with a birth defect. He had half a soul. His Mama was greatly disappointed, but took it in stride. “Well,” she said, “if he can’t preach he can become a lawyer.” And that’s what he did for 43 years.
Shortly after birth his parents moved back to Limestone County, Alabama, home of his ancestors, who had settled there in 1839.
Growing up on numerous tenant farms, he chopped and picked cotton and attended twelve different schools before graduating. At age 16, he enlisted in the Alabama National Guard (yep, he lied) and was one of the first to volunteer for the newly organized 20th Special Forces. He attended jump school and jumpmaster school at Ft. Benning, Georgia and was an original member of the Huntsville Sky Divers.
Jerry graduated from Athens High School in 1960 and married his high school sweetheart in 1961. While working over 90 hours a week at McConnell’s Funeral Home he attended Athens College for 3 years before going to the University of Alabama where he graduated with a law degree in 1967. He served as Senator in the University of Alabama Student Government Association; was elected Student Body President of the School of Law and admitted to Alabama Bar, September, 1967.
Worked for Robert B. French, a noted criminal defense attorney in Ft. Payne, Alabama for approximately a year and a half before returning to Athens and establishing a partnership with Henry W. Blizzard, who later became Circuit Judge. Jerry has tried thousands of cases, including capital murder, murder, bank robbery, kidnapping, medical malpractice, product liability, land-line disputes and too many divorces to remember.
- Graduated from the National College of Criminal Defense, 1979.
- One of the first lawyers in the State of Alabama to be certified as a Civil Trial Advocate, 1980.
- Graduated from the National College of Advocacy – Medical Malpractice, Harvard, 1983.
- Former member of American Alabama Trial Lawyers Association.
- Voir Dire of the Jury. Colorado Trial Lawyers, Vail, 1985
- Fear in the Courtroom. Alabama Criminal Defense Association, Mobile, 1985.
- Cross Examination. Arizona Bar Association, Grand Canyon Lodge, 1986.
- The Art of Cross Examination. Alabama Trial Lawyers. Las Vegas, Nevada, 1980.
Sponsored seminars with psycho-dramatist Jessica Myers in Colorado, Alabama and Minnesota, titled “Psychodrama and the Trial Lawyer.”
In 1984, while spending the summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he attended mountaineering school and began rock climbing. It was there he also began writing. He later took a creative writing course at UAH and joined the Writer’s Group.
He was a Columnist for the Athens-News Courier for many years and currently writes for Athens Now.
- In 2016, he was a guest speaker at Homer Hickam’s Annual Writer’s Conference in Huntsville, Alabama. Subject, “Cooking up a novel”.
- Later in the year spoke at University of Alabama, Huntsville about writing a novel.
- He is also a storyteller and has spoken at various events about fox hounds, cornbread and baptisms.
Author of When Duty Called, Duty, Cornbread Chronicles, The Fuhrer Document, a thriller, and recently released Revolutionaries Rebels, a historical novel.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Veterans Museum Archives. Divorced, he is the father of three children and resides on Elk River, in Limestone County, Alabama where he is currently finishing his sixth book, Trial Within.