Bob Peters, otherwise known as Robert S. Peters, came to Winchester in 1953 to get a first class education at Franklin County High School. Bob’s father had decided that life up north was not good enough for a man from Jackson County, Alabama, so he moved south and bought a farm across the State line in Franklin County. Bob did just fine in high school. He rode the pep bus to all the away games in the Rebel’s undefeated 1956 football season. He took second-year Latin under Theron Myers and was the only boy in a class of thirteen. These were just two of his accomplishments, and, as a result, he got a full scholarship to Vanderbilt that paid for everything with the exception of a VW Beetle he brought back from a semester spent in Salzburg, Austria. Bob graduated from Vanderbilt in 1961, and spent the next seven years wandering in academia, getting a smattering of education to places like California, Texas, and Washington, with a stint in Mexico for a year. For reasons so obscure, including the Texas tower shootings, Bob returned to Tennessee and enrolled in law school at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He was now married and the husband and wife and their cat had their own midget apartment off Chapman Highway.
Bob had no particular notion about being a lawyer, and he never made his decision until he found out, without knowing in advance, that he had a full scholarship because he was first in his law school class. Bob stayed that way and graduated number one. As a result, he was able to wrangle a job with Clinton Swafford and Floyd Davis in their offices in Winchester. Bob continues in the law practice with Clinton, Tim Priest, and Mickey Hall at their offices just off the square at 120 North Jefferson Street in a renovated building next to the Livery.
Bob is one of Winchester’s country lawyers, handling cases for folks of all sorts. He is one of those small town attorneys who is a holdover from an earlier day when all the lawyers were Democrats and who got together every morning to drink coffee and swap lies at the Chuckwagon on the square. Many of them then went in the evenings to socialize and to drink Wild Turkey out of paper cups in Joe Bean’s second floor office. The Chuckwagon is now gone. Joe Bean is gone. Hardly anyone now has the time to sip Wild Turkey in the evenings, but Bob is still here. He is still a Democrat, and he makes the fact public by driving an old Lincoln emblazoned with a “Hillary 2012” bumper sticker, a “yellow dog” sticker, and a “Stormy” window plaque. You know Bob is coming (or going) from the reverberations of the Lincoln’s oogah horn.
Bob handles his cases like he always has. His first case with a criminal jury trial on the fist Wednesday after Labor Day in 1970, and the jury found the defendant, a fine young fellow from Decherd, not guilty of threatening a Decherd police officer with a loaded shotgun. The newly appointed District Attorney General had left the defendant’s uncle on the jury. It has been that way ever since. Bob has tried hundreds of jury cases all over the place, and he has pursued hundreds of appeals in State and Federal Court. Bob still hangs around his office, and he can be found most of the time. He still goes to court, and he frequents courthouses within one hour’s drive. He can be found take a stroll around the square, and he greets everyone the same way he always has.
By the standards of this day, he is an old timey lawyer. He has a computer that he does not know how to use, a flip phone he does not answer, and he does his own writing and research, and he tries cases on his own. A circuit judge recently wrote an opinion which complimented Bob in stating that Bob “belongs to a small and elite group of rural criminal defense attorneys who skillfully cross-examine law enforcement offices during hearings and trials but somehow maintains a close personal relationship with the officers.”
You can find Bob at his office, or at Bates Foods, or at the Courthouse, or in the barbershop, or most anywhere. If he meets you, he will say “howdy.” You need to say “howdy” back.