Many people lost a champion Thursday evening when Judge Jerry Daniel died at his home in Waynesboro, Ga.
Daniel, 70, had been the Burke County State Court judge since he was elected to the position in 2000.
Daniel presided over that court, created and ran the area’s first DUI/Drug Court programs in 2006, and still represented clients in the area.
“Jerry and I have been friends for years,” said Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. “We went to Georgia Southern University together.”
Blanchard described his friend as a good student, a lawyer who always did his utmost for his clients and a judge who served with distinction.
Blanchard, who presides over Drug Court for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, said Daniel was a trailblazer for the program. Daniel’s court was given many awards, Blanchard said.
Daniel also started a Mental Health Court and a Family Violence Court. He advocated for victims of domestic violence and for veterans.
“Jerry’s life is a lesson on the good that comes when we are persistent in our efforts to protect one another’s dignity and when we learn to forgive others and, more importantly, forgive ourselves,” Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig wrote in an e-mail.
“He loved the people of Burke County – especially those that are most challenged by the obstacles that we face in our life’s journey. In his journey he found success. It wasn’t handed to him; it wasn’t easy; but he never gave up,” Craig wrote.
Daniel enjoyed life to the fullest, District Attorney Ashley Wright wrote in an e-mail.
“Jerry was a man for the people. He believed in his clients’ rights, he had their best interests at heart, and he always asked for mercy for them. He wanted to make a difference whether he was serving as an advocate for a client or as a presiding judge,” Wright wrote.
The family will receive friends from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at DeLoach-McKerley Funeral Home, 842 N. Liberty St., Waynesboro. The funeral will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Rosemont Heights Baptist Church, 710 Stone St., Waynesboro. Daniel’s family has asked that contributions be made to Rosemont Heights Baptist Church’s Vision Fund.