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Officials tout tough on crime legislation benefiting DeSoto County

Photo: DeSoto County District Attorney Bob Morris explains the importance of having additional assistant district attorneys funded by legislation passed in the 2023 session. (Bob Bakken/

This week, officials gathered to recognize another step in the fight against crime in DeSoto County. 

Joined by Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, DeSoto County District Attorney Bob Morris highlighted recent passage of legislation that has added three assistant district attorneys. Hosemann also highlighted other tough on crime legislation passed in the 2023 session.  

House Bill 834 adds one additional permanent prosecutor in each of 14 judicial districts, including DeSoto County. Another bill, House Bill 603, provided DeSoto County with $275,000 to fund two more ADAs. 

Morris, who was appointed to the position when former District Attorney John Champion passed away last year, had advocated for the additions when he was appointed and got support this year from county legislators, including the three state Senators, Dr. David Parker, Kevin Blackwell, and Michael McLendon. 

“Right now, we’re doing a good job, but the county continues to grow,” Morris said about his office work load. “As the county continues to grow, the caseload will grow with it.  As people come, crimes go up. To do that, we’re going to have to have more judges and prosecutors.  We want to be forward-thinking and stay ahead.”

Morris said he wants the ADAs hired with funds from House Bill 603 made permanent and then add two more for a total of 10 covering the county. Hosemann expects with redistricting of judicial districts next year, more changes may be expected.  

“DeSoto County is one of the fastest growing areas of the state, so we must plan for the future now,” said Hosemann, crediting Blackwell, McLendon, and Parker for their effective advocacy. “We must back up our law enforcement officers with prosecutors ready to enforce the law.”

The appearance of Hosemann to DeSoto County was also to showcase other legislation that was passed in the session to fight crime.  

House Bill 602 increased discretionary funds for district attorneys across the state to allow more flexibility in hiring staff, updating equipment, or covering other necessary expenses.

Senate Bill 2101, which increases mandatory minimum sentences for the crimes of fleeing law enforcement in a motor vehicle, carjacking, and armed carjacking.

Senate Bill 2127, which removes the requirement that a person making a terroristic threat must also make a demand like money so prosecution can occur for the threat itself.

Senate Bill 2420, which creates a registry for offenders who commit the crime of embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds. Offenders remain on the list for five years from the date of conviction or the date of release from physical incarceration, whichever is later. Governmental entities are not permitted to hire persons whose name appears on the registry for any position in accounting or which otherwise oversees taxpayer money.

“We pay particular attention to making sure the criminal justice system works expeditiously,” Hosemann said. “If you don’t have that, then you don’t have the fear of repercussions for what you do. You don’t have the constitutional access to be found innocent if you didn’t do it.”

Morris said two of the three ADAs have already been hired. 

“The funds are basically an earmark to use how I wish, but what I wished to do with it is to hire two more prosecutors,” Morris explained. “One seasoned prosecutor who has more than 15 years experience that I’ve already chosen and the other one through the application process. One permanent ADA spot and then two with the $275,000, three total.”

Morris also said the split in the district to strictly DeSoto County helped put the issue into better focus and stepped up the efforts to get the additional help. When DeSoto County split from the other counties in the former district, it effectively took away four prosecutors who could be brought in on reserve.    

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