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Governor appoints District Attorney as Circuit Court Judge

Gov. Phil Bryant announced on Wednesday he has appointed District Attorney Mark Duncan Eighth Circuit Court District circuit judge. Duncan, who has served as DA for the Eighth District since 2003, will replace Judge Vernon Cotten, who retired May 31.

Duncan’s appointment will be effective June 2. Gov. Bryant will appoint his replacement as DA for the Eighth District, which covers Scott, Leake, Neshoba and Newton counties.

“Mark’s experience as a prosecutor and the record he has established serving the people of the Eighth District make him the perfect fit to replace Judge Cotten,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “I know that faithful service will continue once he’s on the bench, and I am delighted he has accepted this appointment.”

Before Duncan served as DA, he was an assistant district attorney in the Eighth District for 16 years.

“I want to thank Governor Bryant for this opportunity and for the confidence he has shown in me by making this appointment,” Duncan said. “I will do my best to demonstrate that the trust he has shown in me is well placed. Judge Vernon Cotten served our district well for the past 20 years, always exhibiting the highest standards for honesty, fairness and integrity. I am humbled to have the chance to follow in his footsteps and will always strive to meet those same standards.”

Since starting in the DA’s office in 1988, Duncan has tried more than 800 jury trials. Perhaps his most notable came in his first term as DA, when he led the prosecution of former Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen for the killing of three civil rights workers. Duncan’s team secured a conviction on three counts of manslaughter that led to a 60-year sentence.

“I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve our district in the District Attorney’s office for almost 30 years,” Duncan said. “My primary motivation in joining the District Attorney’s office those many years ago, was a desire to have a positive impact in the community that I love and where I live. I look forward to the chance to be able to continue to have a positive influence in our community as circuit judge and will work my hardest to do my part in giving our citizens a court system they can be proud of.”

Duncan received his bachelor’s of business administration and his juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Joni, have been married 35 years. They have one son, Benjamin Mark “Ben” Duncan. They attend First United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, where Mark serves in a number of lay leadership roles.

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