Jerry H. Summers

Jerry H. Summers is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee. Following his graduation from law school, he initially worked for two years as a prosecutor in the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office. Entering private practice in 1969, he became the founding member of what is now Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers. An experienced trial lawyer, he is one of the small number of attorneys in the State of Tennessee who has been selected for membership in the major honoraries based on legal ability and ethical criteria. He is a fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, American College of Trial Lawyers, International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is one of five attorneys in Tennessee invited to join the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.

Mr. Summers has served as President of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association and the Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He has served on the national boards of the American Association for Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and he is a life member of both the state and national organizations. He is active in numerous other legal and community groups and currently serves on the boards of Area IV Special Olympics and Orange Grove Center (for the mentally and physically impaired).

While maintaining an active trial practice, he is the supervising member of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers and works closely with each of the other attorneys.


  • University of Tennessee College of Law, Knoxville, Tennessee
    • LL.B. – 1966
  • University of the South, Sewanee, TN
    • B.A. – 1963
  • Central High School, Chattanooga, TN
    • 1959

Professional Associations

  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • International Society of Barristers, Fellow
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Fellow
  • American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Fellow
  • American Board of Criminal Lawyers, Member
  • American Association for Justice, Member
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Life Member
  • Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, Member & Former President
  • Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Life Member & Former President

Practice Areas

  • Criminal Law
  • Aviation
  • Civil Rights
  • Election Campaign & Political Law
  • Employment Law — Employee
  • Health & Health Care Law
  • Litigation & Appeals
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents — Plaintiff
  • Nursing Home
  • Personal Injury — Plaintiff
  • Products Liability Law
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Workers’ Compensation Law
  • Mesothelioma & Asbestos
  • Social Security Disability

Bar Admissions

  • Tennessee, 1966
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Tennessee
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association Hall of Fame, Sewanee Inductee 2023
  • Legislative Proclamation from Tennessee General Assembly to honor his contributions to the meritorious legal service to the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County Election Commission for over 25 years February 27, 2023
  • National George Washington Honor Medal presented by the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge (2019)
  • 2019 Attorney for Justice Award – awarded by TN Supreme Court for pro bono representation
  • Distinguished Citizen & Lifetime Achievement Award for Exceptional Practice of Law and Community Service – Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge (2018)
  • University of Tennessee’s Distinguished Alumnus Award 2016
  • University of the South Distinguished Alumnus Award 2014
  • named to the Super Lawyers in Criminal Defense 2006-2023
  • named to Top 100: Tennessee Super Lawyers: 2009-2013. 2015-2016; 2018-2022
  • named to Best Lawyers in America for forty years
  • Published Author of Eight Books and hundreds of articles on on history, opinions, and Lewis Grizzard


Representative Cases

  • Brooks v. Tennessee 406 U.S. 605 (1972)
  • Robinson v. Neil, 409 U.S. 505 (1973)
  • Cox v. City of Chattanooga, 516 S.W.2d 94 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1974)
  • State v. Thornton, 492 S.W.2d 912 (Tenn. 1973)
  • McKeldin v. State, 516 S.W.2d (Tenn. 1974)
  • Day & Zimmerman, Inc. v. Challoner, 423 U.S. 3 (1975)
  • Graham v. State, 547 S.W.2d 531 (1977)
  • Pace v. State, 566 S.W.2d 861 (Tenn. 1978)
  • State v. Franklin, 714 S.W.2d 252 (Tenn. 1986)
  • Summers v. Thompson, 764 S.w.2d 182 (Tenn. 1988)
  • State v. Whaley, 982 S.W.2d 346 (Tenn. 1997)
  • State v. Downey, 945 S.W.2d 102 (Tenn. 1997)
  • City of Chattanooga v. Davis, 54 S.W.3d 248 (Tenn. 2001)
  • State v. Hicks, 55 S.W.3d 515 (Tenn. 2001)
  • State v. Toliver, 117 S.W.3d 216 (Tenn. 2003)
  • United States v. Long, 457 Fed. Appx. 534 (6th Cir. 2012)
  • In re Estate of Brock, 536 S.W.3d 409 (Tenn. 2017)
  • State v. Franklin, 2018 WL 3998766 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 21, 2018)
  • State v. Decosimo, 555 S.W.3d 494 (Tenn. 2018)



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