Seventh Judicial District Circuit Judge Don Elledge Honored with Recognition of Service Award

The Tennessee Association of Recovery Court Professionals Board of Directors recognized retired Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge, representing Anderson County, for his contribution to recovery courts in his district and the state of Tennessee.

“It’s a way to value the time and effort that comes from such a lofty goal of implementing a recovery court and maintaining it for the number of years that it took for Judge Elledge to do,” said Marie Crosson, TARCP Executive Director.

Judge Elledge started his judicial career in 2005. He said one of the first things everybody asked him was. “Are you going to start a drug court?” His response, “Absolutely!”

“Standing before you today is a person who has been personally affected by family members, just as most of you here,” said Judge Elledge. “When I go around to places and talk about what drug court meant to me, one of the things that I would do is tell them that I have a sister that I don’t where she lives. Her only son, my nephew, and I don’t know where he lives. About six months ago, I got a call from a funeral home in my home county. They said, ‘Don, we’ve got your sister here.’ I know where she is. I still don’t know where my nephew is. We all can tell stories like that. I am so honored to be here today because through this work, I’ve gotten to know and become friends with Judge Norman and Rodney Bragg.”

In fact, Judge Elledge said he relied on Judge Norman, who he calls the Dean and Godfather of drug courts in the southeast.

“I’ve had many accomplishments in my life that I’m proud of,” said Judge Elledge. “My family and my children, most of all. But in my professional life, I know I am speaking to the choir when I say there is nothing that you can do in life that’s more rewarding to see that through your efforts you have changed not only a person’s life, but that person’s entire family.”

Judge Elledge said he’s never attended a drug court graduation where he didn’t get emotional.

“When those people stand up there and tell you they’re alive because of your efforts, you need to go home tonight and praise God,” he said. “What I’ve done to help people in my community, there’s no greater reward, professionally, none.”

The Recognition of Service Award is the first of its kind to be awarded at TARCP’s annual conference.