MEET YOUR ATTORNEY: KERRY L. ARMSTRONG
What inspired you to become a lawyer?
My dad was a land developer in Middle Tennessee, and he got sued a couple of times when I was a kid. He always wanted me to become an attorney so I could help him out and protect his business. Most kids do not want to become what their parents want, but being an attorney actually sounded interesting to me.
However, I was always fascinated with crime and knew that I wanted to go into criminal law and not civil law. I knew since seventh grade that I was going to become an attorney. At one time, I wanted to go into politics, but I eventually became disinterested in that when I got to college and saw how corrupt our political system is.
Why did you decide on criminal defense?
Like I said above, I have always been fascinated by crime, even in elementary school. It intrigues me regarding why people do the things they do, especially in the criminal world. Before I began law school, I contemplated becoming a prosecutor. However, working for a criminal defense attorney in law school changed my feelings on that. I very quickly saw how mistreated defendants are in the criminal justice field, and I wanted to help them.
It is interesting to me how cell phone cameras are currently changing our country’s feelings toward the police and the criminal justice system. Ten years ago, most of the country thought that the police are always right and make correct decisions. But in the past couple of years it seems that police brutality videos are released almost daily, and they show just how violent and disrespectful police officers can be to people. It really bothers me when police officers act that way, and I want to help people who are victims of officers’ brutality or disrespect.
Are you known for a particular skill or specialty?
Yes, I definitely focus on sex crimes to a large degree. They are by far the hardest to defend (even harder than murder), but the challenge is very interesting.
Is there a past case you handled that you are particularly proud of?
I think the biggest success I ever had was on a thirty-eight-count child molest/rape case that I defended in late 2012. The client was looking at 348-to-life, which is almost impossible to even comprehend. The jury voted not-guilty on all thirty-eight counts and the client got to go home and try to reassemble his life.
A close second was a first-degree murder, robbery, and conspiracy trial that I won in 2005. The client was potentially looking at the death penalty, but the District Attorney’s Office decided not to seek death. It was still an amazing feeling to acquit the defendant on a life case.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I enjoy helping the “underdog,” and that is what my clients are. Even if they are successful people with a lot of money, they still are the underdog in the criminal justice system. The District Attorney’s Office has virtually unlimited assets to prosecute cases, and it is often very hard to defend a case against an entity with unlimited money.
Although “winning” a case is often just getting the best plea-bargain possible, it is rewarding to save someone’s life, save their job, save them from having to register as a sex offender, or even saving them from a large fine.
What sets your firm apart from the rest?
I am very picky about who I hire, especially the attorneys who work for me. My two current associates are not only very good and dedicated attorneys, but they are my close friends as well. I get rid of employees who do not care about clients or who cut corners in their work.
I truly believe that all three of us attorneys in the firm really care about our clients, even the ones who give us problems at times. We all understand that when clients hire our firm, they are probably going through the worst time in their lives. They are very scared, apprehensive about the criminal justice system, and often even angry about their situation.
All three of us work very hard to make sure that the client gets through the system with the least possible punishment or penalties.