Interim county prosecutor appointed by supervisors

Published 12:59 am Tuesday, March 21, 2017


NATCHEZ —Adams County supervisors appointed Aisha Sanders Monday to serve as interim county prosecuting attorney until a special election is held.

Sanders’ term will begin in June and will end in November. County Prosecuting Attorney Barret Martin announced last month his retirement, effective May 31. The election will be Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Email newsletter signup

“It was just the right time,” Martin said in a phone interview after the meeting. “It has been an extraordinary job, in all aspects of it. I had been doing what I hoped to do for decades.”

Sanders said after the meeting she wanted to thank the supervisors for entrusting her with the position.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of the office,” she said. “Mr. Martin has been very helpful to me in my limited time as an attorney. He has gone out of his way to show me the ropes down there at Justice Court.

“I think he has done an excellent job and served the office well. I just hope I can do as well as he did.”

Martin said he had been thinking about retiring for approximately a year, since he closed his family run law practice. The window of opportunity opened, he said, when former Southern District Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess retired earlier this year.

“Since they are going to have to have a special election anyway, I figure now is the time or I’d have to ride it out for another three years,” he said.

Martin first began serving in the position in 1984, and every term since then has run unopposed.

“I think the most rewarding thing has been my interaction with the people I work with — the judges, the attorneys and the hundreds of law enforcement officers I have gotten to know. They are all good people,” he said. “Then you talk about the tens of thousands over the years of victims and witnesses and all the other people who have come into my life.

“We have an extraordinary population of people here in Adams County. I believe people here do have a kinship.”

The advice Martin said he would give to future prosecuting attorneys is to remember that every story has at least two sides.

“You have to be willing to listen,” Martin said. “In my mind, the prosecution is there to present the truth to the court. Where that comes from can be surprising sometimes. But if you don’t listen, you will never hear it.”

Martin said he and his wife, Dianne, are looking forward to retirement and doing some traveling.

“We have booked a big trip to Disney World,” Martin said. “We have not been there in 30 years. And when we go down there, we may take a grandchild or two.”

Martin said he believes Sanders will do a good job as interim.

“Mrs. Sanders is an exceptional young attorney,” Martin said. “She has impressed me more than once in defense of her client. She is a student of the law. She has all the natural abilities and she will bring enthusiasm into the position.”

Supervisors’ Board Attorney Scott Slover said he has worked with Sanders and he believes she is qualified.

“I’ve litigated both with and against Aisha Sanders and find her to be a very intelligent, thorough and dedicated advocate for her clients,” Slover said. “She’s a very bold attorney — in a very positive way — and is the type of lawyer who is willing to take the bull by the horns.”

Sanders said she went to law school at the Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge and began practicing law in Louisiana approximately two and one-half years ago. She began practicing law in Mississippi two years ago.

“It will provide me with quality experience,” Sanders said. “It will be nice to see the law from the prosecutor’s standpoint.”

Sanders said she would not run for the position in November. Supervisors sought to appoint someone who would not run so as to not show the community favoritism.

Sanders said she might run sometime in the future but does not plan to do so in this upcoming special election.

“I’m still trying to learn the ropes,” she said. “The experience in the interim will be beneficial in the future.”

The vote to appoint Sanders passed 3-1 with Board President Mike Lazarus abstaining and District 2 Supervisor David Carter voting nay.

Lazarus said he abstained because his cousin, Jack Lazarus, was seeking the appointment.

Lazarus said Sanders would have to resign from the public defender’s list.

Sanders is the daughter of Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders.