- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2020

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Some public defense attorneys in one Mississippi county are receiving a pay raise, but two of them are not.

Public defenders Lydia Blackmon and Aisha Sanders told Adams County supervisors that all other public defenders in the county received an increase in pay from $2,000 to $2,800 per month. Those raises were approved by a court order from Circuit Judge Lillie B. Sanders.

However, Circuit Judge Debra W. Blackwell said she would not order pay raises for Blackmon and Aisha Sanders, the Natchez Democrat reported.

“The unique situation that Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Blackmon find themselves in is that they are limited in their practice because they can only practice in front of me. They cannot practice in front of Judge Sanders because they are related to her,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said Wednesday that she was never in favor of giving pay raises to any of the public defenders, and she refused to sign the court order.



“I don’t know of anybody in Adams County who is entitled to a 40% raise,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said Blackmon and Aisha Sanders only practice in front of her during her three-month court term each year, while other public defenders practice for six months each year under both judges

Aisha Sanders told supervisors on Tuesday that the salary discrepancy appears to be discriminatory against the only two public defenders who are both female and black.

“There are three black attorneys on the list and only two black women, and they stand before you today,” Sanders said. “We are the only two who did not receive a raise. I would like for you to be aware of those optics because should you not take action here, we will be forced to take additional action on you all.”

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