After 20 years, Lincoln County District Attorney stepping down

Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2023

Mississippi Judicial District 14 will have a new primary prosecuting attorney elected to office come November. Dewitt “Dee” Bates Jr. plans to step out of the office he took over in 2003, and move on to other things.

“I am not seeking re-election. I have enough years to retire,” Bates said. “I promised the people who voted for me that I will stick it out through Dec. 31, 2023, and we’ll see where life takes me then. That will be 20 years for me as district attorney.”

A county prosecutor in Pike County prior to his DA stint, Bates said his children don’t have a memory of him doing anything different from what he’s now doing.

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“I would like to take a less-active role,” he said. “Not that I haven’t enjoyed it. I thank God for the opportunity to do what I’ve done. I hope that I’ve made my community safer and helped victims and their families.”

The responsibilities of the office are greater than many realize, Bates said, handling 15 employees and millions of dollars from state and county funds. The office may expand to include more assistant district attorneys in 2024, as well. Another challenge can be carrying the weight of unresolved cases, or when justice is not served the way one expects. Sometimes it comes down to decisions made in the district attorney’s office.

“Making decisions is not hard,” Bates said. “Living with decisions is sometimes hard.”

He appreciates the consistent work put in by law enforcement he’s seen over his time as a prosecutor.

“I’ve never seen a time period that our law enforcement needs support and assistance as they have in the past couple of years. There are multiple pressures put on them,” he said. “Everybody wants good law enforcement, as long as it applies to somebody else.”

Bates is not sure he wants to retire from the job he’s committed his life to, but a change of pace is welcomed.

“I thank for my Lord and Savior for an opportunity to serve my jurisdiction and my neighbors. I hope I’ve done good,” he said. “I thank the people and I will always love this jurisdiction until I die. I need this area to be safe for our families and our children.”