City prosecutor, public defender selected by aldermen

Published 12:18 am Saturday, July 16, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen unanimously selected Friday a city prosecutor and public defender for the Natchez Municipal Court.

Over the past two days, four of the six Natchez aldermen and Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell interviewed five candidates for city prosecutor and three candidates for public defender.

The board selected Shameca S. Collins as city prosecutor and Eileen Maher as public defender.

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Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving, Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis and Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard made the selections. Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier and Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith were out of town and unable to attend the interviews.

Collins is a Natchez High School graduate who attended Alcorn State University for her bachelor’s degree and Southern University Law Center for her law degree.

She has served as a private practice attorney and a public defender for Adams County and Woodville City Court. She is also the prosecutor for Natchez Environmental Court, which is under the umbrella of Natchez Municipal Court.

Dillard said Collins’ experience as a prosecutor in municipal court as well as her enthusiasm impressed the aldermen.

“She has the kind of energy level you need (for the job),” he said.

Maher received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston College. She also received a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language from Elms College, a law degree from Western New England University School of Law and most recently a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Alcorn.

Maher has served as a private practice attorney, an Adams County Youth Court prosecutor, Natchez city prosecutor from 1999 until 2002, as well as a staff nurse at Merit Health Natchez and Rapides Regional Medical Center.

Dillard said Maher’s bilingual abilities as well as mental health experience in the medical field add to her impressive law background.

“With her education, experience and qualifications … she definitely stood out,” he said.

Also interviewed for public defender were Lisa Chandler and Carmen Brooks.

Lamar Bullen, Tim Blalock and Stanley Merritt were also city prosecutor candidates.

Maher applied for both positions.

Grennell said he was impressed with the quality of candidates who applied for the municipal court positions.

“All the candidates were impressive, so I know it was challenging for the board to decide,” he said.

The issue of the city prosecutor and public defender appointments was raised at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.

The aldermen asked that interviews be conducted of all candidates so they would have an opportunity to interview everyone interested in the positions.

The appointments come on the heels of a divided and contentious city attorney appointment about which the city is seeking the attorney general’s opinion.

Dillard said he was happy the board came together unanimously on the decisions for city prosecutor and public defender.

“When we agree, let’s all just say, ‘Yes, we agree.’ We don’t have to always fight,” he said.