Meet your candidates: District Attorney

Published 7:55 pm Sunday, April 2, 2023

Each Lincoln County candidate who will appear on the Aug. 8 Primary Election ballot has been contacted by The Daily Leader and asked to reply to a questionnaire.

The same set of questions was sent to each candidate, even those who are running unopposed.

The responses are offered in no particular order, and no candidate had the opportunity to see any other candidate’s answers prior to submitting their own. No edits were made for content.

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Each week, we will present responses from two candidates, along with reminders of who their opponents are.

This week we present the responses from two of three candidates for District Attorney, 14th District, covering Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties.

Incumbent DA Dewitt “Dee” Bates is retiring.

Candidates Brendon Adams and Joe R. “Joey” Norton IV will face off in the Republican Primary. The winner of that primary will face Democrat candidate Patrick Earl Beasley in the General Election.

Previous articles can be found at Beasley’s responses will be published in a future article.

Responses from Adams and Norton are as follows:


Brendon Adams, DA 14

Adams lives in Brookhaven and is a state prosecutor in the DA’s office.

What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course?

For the first time in 20 years we will have a new District Attorney, this is not an election to take lightly. It is very easy to point out the problem, but much harder to actually fix it. But, I have a plan based on years of experience. Change starts at the top. A shortened version of my plan includes the following:

  1. Stricter plea bargain recommendations: Plea bargains are a necessary part of the justice system. The problem arises when the recommendations are too light.
  2. More trials: In years past enough criminals have not had their day in court. I want to create an atmosphere in our district that causes criminals to think twice before breaking our laws, because they know they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the I am a trial lawyer, I will never back down from taking a case to trial.
  3. Dividing the DA s staff into more focused groups based on strengths. I want to reorganize the DA s office into a more taskforce oriented I plan on forming a narcotics division, a violent crimes division, and a property crimes division. This will allow each task force to focus mainly on their crime category, get continued education for their specific skill set, and excel at their specialty.
  4. Working with our legislature to secure two additional ADA positions for our district. This will allow for more man-power for more trials.
  5. Forming relationships of mutual respect and trust with all law enforcement agencies. It is not only ideal to have these relationships, but 100% necessary in order to change our culture of crime. The evidence collected and presented by law enforcement to the DA s office is what we use to prosecute criminals. One of the first things on my agenda as your new DA is to sit down individually with each law enforcement agency in my district to ensure a strong working relationship between each office.


How would you address transparency and accountability of this office?

I plan to run a very transparent office. I intend to transition my campaign Facebook page into a Facebook page for the DA s office. This will help to facilitate keeping the public informed on the activities of our office. My office will also be open to my constituents. I hope to create a better relationship with the public as a whole, because there are many times when the public knows information about ongoing cases, but are hesitant to speak with us. We have to work together as an entire district to correct our increase in crime. As far as accountability goes, my entire career has been based on justice and accountability. Accountability for actions should be a driving force behind the DA s office. No matter how big or small the crime, if you break our laws, you WILL be held accountable.


What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?

The most pressing issue in our district is the rise in violent crimes. I plan to work with all law enforcement and elected officials to find solutions. I will always be open to any ideas and suggestions. As I addressed earlier, I plan to create a violent crimes task force, which I will personally lead. My experience over the past 17 years prosecuting, trying and convicting our community s worst violent offenders makes me the only candidate with the ability to do this.


How would your role in this office improve Brookhaven and Lincoln County?

Electing me as your new District Attorney will benefit Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties because of my vast experience as a prosecutor, my passion for justice and accountability, my 98% conviction rate, and my drive to go to trial. I plan to be a force to be reckoned with, who will discourage criminal behavior due to the strength of my office and task forces. I also have skin in the game as they say, because I have three young children. I want to do everything in my power to leave a better and safer future for them.


What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

I am the only candidate who has spent their entire career prosecuting criminals in this district. I have spent 17 years watching, learning, and practicing my skill as a prosecutor. I have the knowledge, passion, and experience to lead the 14th judicial District Attorney s office. I am NOT a politician, I AM a prosecutor. This will be a new administration. I have spent years reading files and watching trials of other prosecutors in order to make mental notes of tactics of which I approve or disapprove. I intend to continue to hone my skills as a prosecutor for the people of the 14th District.


Please share any family, personal information you’d like to include. 

I was born and raised in Lincoln County, leaving only briefly during my time at university. I obtained my Bachelor s degree from Mississippi State University, and my Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Mississippi College School of Law. I have been married for 13 years to Jessica Gibson of Pike County. Together we have 3 children: Paxton (10), Lillie (8), and Stella Rose (5). You can follow our campaign on our Facebook page, Elect Brendon Adams, District attorney Pike, Lincoln and Walthall County, or email me at We would love to have you join Team BA4DA!


Joey Norton, DA 14

Norton lives in Brookhaven and is a general practice attorney.

What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course?

Simply put, our district continues to see violent crimes like never before. Drug dealers continue to poison our children and families, and property crimes continue to rise. Serious crimes have not been taken seriously, habitual and violent offenders are not being punished as such, and relations with many law enforcement agencies are strained or broken with the current administration.

We cannot keep doing the same things we have been doing for the last two decades and expect different results. Crimes and their methodology have changed, and prosecutions have not changed with them. I will implement a new plan for prosecution and crime prevention in our district, and a new administration leading the way. We are at a critical point to rebuild relationships with law enforcement, educate our children on the lifelong consequences of crime, and encourage them on different paths. We must help people who can be rehabilitated, while punishing violent and repeat offenders for their crimes, not using the law as a bargaining chip for a guilty plea. I fully plan to implement these new strategies from day one in office.


How would you address transparency and accountability of this office?

Accountability applies to everyone, not just those accused of a crime. It’s not just a word, it’s the force and gravity of answering for your actions   Your District Attorney and his office are accountable to you, the citizens, for working tirelessly toward protection of the district. Have the operations of the current administration been adequate, or lacking, or exemplary in your opinion? Does the current crime rate provide evidence to support that opinion? Have cases proceeded swiftly through the court, or have they languished for months or even years? It is time for true accountability in this office, and you as a citizen have the power to make that happen when you mark that ballot.


What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?

The District Attorney’s office needs an overhaul in methodology and focus. Relations with law enforcement have fallen apart, and proactive solutions to prevent crime have not been pursued. Given my experience in Youth Court, I believe that these proactive solutions begin with available programs that teach young people life skills. We cannot just give them sports equipment and hope for the best.

Day one should place your District Attorney in the courtroom, managing prosecutions and the operations of his office to bring cases swiftly before the Court. Relationships with law enforcement and proper training on changes in the law should be the focus of day two. Day three should consist of reaching out to every high school and junior high school in the district, to speak to children about the dangers of drugs, gang life and other crimes. Day four should be spent contacting state and local officials to develop programs and sentencing alternatives to help kids and non-violent offenders become productive. I am not naïve enough to think that the problems of the district can be cured in a week or even over a few years, but this illustrates the urgency required in addressing these problems.


How would your role in this office improve Brookhaven and Lincoln County?

Businesses grow and our community is attractive to new investors when we can offer their employees a safe place to live and work. People are happier in their homes and daily activities when they feel safer from crime. It’s not just about them feeling safer, its about them actually being safer, with reduced threat from repeat and violent offenders, as well as gang activity. We have laws to make this happen, but they must be utilized and enforced. That is my plan, that would be the aim of my new administration.


What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

Our communities are currently ablaze with crime. Criminals have no fear of consequence for their actions, because often there have been few consequences for them.   The park where my sons play has blood on the ground of teenagers who were shot there. My vehicles are ransacked because thieves went through them in the night. This should not be, and cannot continue if we are to thrive. I am running because these issues are not being addressed, and I have the skills, knowledge and work ethic to effect positive change, to improve the lives and safety of our children, our neighbors and our community.

I firmly believe that the future of our community depends on crime prevention with the youth. Given my experiences in Youth Court over several years, I believe that proactive solutions begin with available programs that teach young people life skills. We cannot just give them sports equipment and hope for the best.   There are programs that teach skills such as how to balance a checkbook, how to conduct yourself in a job interview, even how to iron a shirt to look presentable. Evidence has shown that children in our community respond to this; not only do they respond, it has been proven to reduce repeat offenses in youth court.

My career has spanned from justice and municipal courts to Circuit and Chancery Court, to the Mississippi Supreme Court and even the U.S. Federal District Court of Southern Mississippi. My knowledge and experience are not limited to one concentration, I know how the law works on multiple levels.

Your District Attorney must foremost be an administrator, able to manage people and resources. Being a good trial attorney is imperative, but even more so is the ability to manage day to day operations of three offices with attorneys and a full staff. This includes proper budget management, from payroll to flying in expert witnesses from other states, and all points in between. As any business owner knows, this is learned through education and experience.   As a small business owner, having successfully managed my own firm and being a partner in others, I know how to manage people and resources.

Another thing that any business owner knows is that economic development and growth does not occur somewhere that businesses cannot offer their employees a safe community to live in. We were once that, and we can be again.

If we as voters want change, then we have to elect change.

To borrow a statement from Ronald Reagan, and considering the crime our community has experienced, do you feel safer today than you did four years ago? If not, then put me to work for you, so that I can work with you for the betterment of our district.


Please share any family, personal information you’d like to include. 

I am a lifelong resident of Brookhaven, Mississippi, son of Robert and Cathy Norton, grandson of Joe and Emma Jean Norton, and Clyde and Ivolene Lea Coker.

I’ve been married to Sara Norton, formerly of Gulfport, MS, for thirteen years. We have two sons, Toby (8) and Gus (3). We attend Faith Presbyterian Church, where I have been a deacon for about ten years.

After attending Southern Miss for Engineering Technology and graduating Ole Miss Law School with a Certification of Emphasis in Criminal Law, I was sworn into practice with the Mississippi Bar in 2009.

Since that time I have represented clients in matters including land transactions, wills and estates, family law and general litigation, but the focus of my practice has always been criminal law. Having represented clients from traffic tickets to capital murder, I know how to try cases successfully.