Jerry P. Rhoads was born in Henderson, Kentucky. He received his B.A. from Murray State University in 1963 and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1966, where he earned the honor of Order of the Coif and was note editor of the Kentucky Law Journal in his third year. He served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 1966 to 1970 and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
He began his private practice in Webster County, Kentucky, in 1970 under the firm name of Chandler & Rhoads. He has practiced law in Madisonville, Kentucky, since 1974 and under the firm name of Rhoads & Rhoads, P.S.C. since 1976, specializing primarily in personal injury, workers’ compensation, occupational lung disease, products liability, social security disability and estate and probate.
Rhoads has been a member of the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys (now Kentucky Justice Association) since 1972, holding various offices, including president, president-elect, vice president, secretary and treasurer. He also served on the Board of Governors (First District 1981 through 1988), was former chair of KATA Workers' Compensation Section and founder and former editor of KATA Workers' Compensation Review. He has spoken at numerous KATA seminars on Workers' Compensation and Trial Practice. He testified before various committees of the Kentucky General Assembly in areas of tort law, automobile insurance and workers' compensation.
Rhoads held office in the Kentucky State Senate, 6th District, from 2003 – 2014 and served on various committees, including Judiciary, Education, Economic Development, Tourism and Labor, Capital Projects and Bond Oversight, Veterans and Military Affairs and Public Protection and Banking and Insurance. He served as Minority Whip from 2009 through 2014.
He is a member of the Hopkins County Bar Association, Kentucky Bar Association and a former delegate for the American Trial Lawyers Association. He served on the Governor's Task Force on Workers' Compensation in 1980 and the ad hoc committee appointed by House Leadership to draft workers' compensation legislation for the 1994 General Assembly.
Rhoads was a member of the Murray State University Alumni Association Board of Governors and the University of Kentucky College of Law Alumni Board of Directors (former president). He was recently selected to the University of Kentucky College of Law Hall of Fame.
Rhoads was appointed by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to the Murray State University Board of Regents in 2015 and serves as chair for 2020-2021.