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Land of Emmett Till: Prosecutor Candidate’s Father Inspirational Civil Rights Figure

From the Desoto Times Tribune — Chatham relying on experience

By ROBERT LEE LONG
Community Editor

HERNANDO — Gerald Chatham, a candidate for Circuit Court Judge, District 17, Place 4 says his courtroom experience and career as a former prosecutor will serve him well if elected. Chatham’s opponent in Tuesday’s runoff election is attorney Robert S. “Stan” Little Jr.

Chatham, a longtime Hernando attorney and former district attorney, is a well-known trial lawyer with roots in DeSoto County that go back several generations.

Chatham, whose father served as district attorney and former DeSoto County School Superintendent as well as county attorney, serves as his “hero” and role model.

“His ideals were lofty and were something I was very proud of,” Chatham said. “I was not your typical young man. I didn’t want to be a fireman or a doctor. I always wanted to be a lawyer like him. I idolized him. I have pretty much patterned my career after him. He left me a tremendous name and reputation I have tried to pass on to my family.”

In addition to his father, another inspirational figure to Chatham is Atticus Finch, the fictional small town Southern lawyer in Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

As an 11 year-old, Chatham watched his father try to prosecute two white men for the 1955 brutal beating death of a 14 year-old black child from Chicago named Emmett Till. Chatham’s father lost the case, but he won respect in the eyes of his young son.

“The legacy he left me was certainly some big shoes to fill,” Chatham said.

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