McDonald and Patch law firm to represent Board of Supervisors

Published 3:40 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The McDonald and Patch law firm, consisting of attorneys Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald and Gerald C. Patch, has been named as the new attorneys for the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors.

The board interviewed several lawyers for the position, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, but ultimately decided to go with McDonald and Patch because of their prior government experience.

“Government is different from private practice. We have to follow different laws, and that government experience helps,” Lumpkin said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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The appointment comes after the retirement of Nova Carroll, who served as board attorney for 16 years, and will last until the end of the year to complete Carroll’s unfinished term with the current board of supervisors. The position of board attorney is appointed annually, and will be reappointed in January by the board, Lumpkin said.

McDonald, who recently retired as District Attorney for the Fifteenth Circuit Court District, served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Mississippi National Guard for several years, starting as a Transportation Court Officer in the reserve and rising through the ranks to serve as a Judge Advocate General in the National Guard.

“The military did a lot for me. By the time I was 23, I was an officer and a lawyer. I had the responsibilities of men and equipment, and it taught me to manage my time and work with others. It was one of my most valuable experiences,” McDonald said in an interview Tuesday.

Prior to military service, McDonald received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Mississippi State University, and earned his law degree from the University Of Alabama School Of Law. In 1973, he began practicing general law in Picayune and served as Municipal Judge for the city.

In 1984, McDonald was appointed Assistant District Attorney for the Fifteenth Circuit Court District. He also was Pearl River County Prosecuting Attorney and served as the Operations Chief for the Pearl River County Emergency Management Agency during Katrina, and has been appointed to several committees by Gov. Haley Barbour.

Patch, a 1971 graduate of Picayune Memorial High School, obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Mississippi State University in 1975 and received his law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1978.

In the past, Patch has served as an elected member of Picayune City Council, a City Judge for the City of Poplarville, and has held positions on the boards of directors for the Picayune Chamber of Commerce and the Picayune Athletic Association. He currently is the attorney for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District and is the attorney for Coast Electric.

McDonald and Patch both reside in the county, and feel that will also help them as board attorneys.

“We both live in the county. We have an understanding of what the county needs,” McDonald said.

McDonald and Patch formed their law firm in January of this year, after McDonald retired as District Attorney. They had worked together previously as Patch and McDonald law firm, and saw this as an opportunity to provide a wide variety of legal services to the city of Picayune, McDonald said.

“Our experience on a government level is the big thing we bring to the table. We understand how government works,” McDonald said. “Our primary goal is to provide accurate and unbiased legal advice to the board.”