Born in Meridian and educated in Enterprise, Michael Grace announced his campaign for District Attorney of the 10th Circuit Court, which covers both of those cities, on the steps of the Clarke County Courthouse Thursday.
Grace will face Kassie Coleman, who was appointed to the seat when long-serving District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell retired in October 2018, in the general election on Nov. 5.
"I came back to Meridian after taking an externship with Mississippi Legal Services," Grace said. "Where I learned... about how to zealously and diligently represent your clients and do so in an unbiased way."
A graduate of Enterprise and the Mississippi College of Law, Grace owns the Speakeasy Wine & Spirits in Clarke County.
"(Bill Ready, Jr.) taught me what it meant to zealously represent your clients both inside and outside the courtroom," Grace said, speaking about his time working with the Meridian attorney. "It was during that time that I decided to move back to Clarke County and start my own law practice."
With donated furniture and the support of his parents, Grace said he opened up his Clarke County law practice in 2013, working as a defense attorney and guardian ad litem in youth court.
"In my experience, it is the DA's duty to vigorously prosecute dangerous criminals and fully sustain the law. To enhance public safety through effective prevention programs and utilize pre-trial intervention in cases in which rehabilitation is possible," Grace said.
Grace added that using pre-trial intervention services for first-time, nonviolent offenders with substance abuse or mental health distress can reduce the cost to taxpayers throughout the district, which covers Kemper, Lauderdale, Clarke and Wayne counties.
"The brave men and women who risk their lives daily (in law enforcement) so the rest of us can live our lives safely and comfortably, as DA, I will make sure you get the support you deserve," Grace said.
For victims, Grace said he would be their voice and improve communication on cases.
"I will ensure that victims and our families will have a high standard of treatment from our office," Grace said. "That they are involved in every step of the criminal process, utilize the community resources and advocacy outreach programs to help cope with issues the law can't address."
As the board attorney for the town of Pachuta and Enterprise School District, Grace said he had a broad background as attorney.
"I think the overall the task of the DA is to make sure the community is safe," Grace said.
Grace said that the issues he saw in the legal system, not specifically in the 10th Circuit Court, prompted him to submit his name as a Democratic candidate.
"Mainly it was the fact that I'd see people accused of a crime but not brought to trial and they'd sit in jail for months on end," Grace said. "I look forward to meeting (voters) on the campaign trail and answering their questions."