Photo: New District Attorney Matthew Barton is sworn into office as new 23rd Judicial District Attorney by Judge Jimmy McClure as Barton’s wife and daughter look on. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
The transition to newly elected officials in DeSoto County began Thursday afternoon, Dec. 28 with the swearing in of new District Attorney Matthew Barton. He was sworn into office by Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure as wife Megan, daughter Eleanor, and a courtroom of well wishers and supporters stood by.
The new District Attorney will oversee the prosecution side of cases in DeSoto County, which is now the 23rd Judicial District with redistricting. Barton defeated Robert “Bob” Morris III last August in a Republican primary and became elected D.A. with no Democratic opposition in November.
Supporters are quick to point out that Barton is the first Republican District Attorney elected to represent DeSoto County. Democrats previously held the office when DeSoto County was part of a multi-county Judicial District.
Morris was appointed District Attorney in September 2022 by Gov. Tate Reeves to fill the remainder of the term of the late John Champion.
The ceremony began with an invocation, followed by remarks from Sheriff-elect Thomas Tuggle, who Barton will be working with to prosecute cases the Sheriff’s Department will bring during the next four years. Also providing remarks was Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bobby Chamberlin of Hernando, reminding Barton, “You have the responsibility that laws are not just laws on the books but that they are laws that are applied, and when our people go to bed at night, they feel safe.”
In his remarks, Barton reminded the audience of his intent to stem the flow of crime from north of the state line into DeSoto County.
“I understand we have our own homegrown crime problems here, but we’re also not going to ignore the fact that a lot of residual crime is coming from Memphis,” Barton said. “I vowed to ‘Stop Memphis, Save DeSoto,’ and I’m not backing down from that now just because I won.”
Barton will do that work over the next four years with a much different-looking office than Morris had on staff when he held the position.
“There’s been quite a lot of changes,” Barton said after the ceremony. “I believe we retained the best of what we had and we’re bringing in a lot of new people. We’ll have five new attorneys and 12 or 13 new people that we’ve brought in.”
The Bible on which Barton took his oath of office was brought to the courthouse by DeSoto County Museum curator Robert Long. The volume is a 150-year old Bible published in 1873 during the American Reconstruction period after the Civil War. The museum owns the Bible and loaned it for Thursday’s ceremony.
The transition to new county officials will continue on Friday, Dec. 29, when county elected officials will be sworn into office at the Courthouse in a public ceremony starting at 6 p.m.