OXFORD – Baretta Mosley has been Lafayette County’s circuit clerk for only five months, but she’s hardly a newcomer.
Before being elected in Lafayette County, Mosley spent 24 years as a deputy clerk to Mary Alice Busby, who retired last year.
What’s kept her interested in the work for most of a quarter-century?
“It’s not the same thing every day. Every case is different,” said the lifelong Lafayette County resident. “You get an opportunity to help people in many different ways – not just the court side, but also with the elections side.”
She particularly enjoys helping voters navigate and understand the ever-changing body of election laws.
Mosley and her husband Fred have been married for 37 years. Their son, Courtney, is a musician in Murfreesboro, Tenn., whose band will be accompanying Aretha Franklin this weekend. Their daughter, Tiffany, lives in Biloxi with her husband and two children and works for Virginia College.
At West Springhill Church, Mosley sings in the choir, teaches Sunday School and serves on the board of trustees. These days, the surrounding community is no longer the rural enclave that it was during her childhood.
“The only thing I don’t like about it is that everything is moving to the west,” Mosley said. “Trying to get home in the afternoon – we are not the country anymore.” Her commute, however, does allow her an indulgence in her busy day.
“If you see me riding in my car, I’m listening to a book,” she said.
Mosley said the biggest differences over the years she’s worked with the circuit court are the advances in technology and the mushrooming volume of cases, both civil and criminal. It used to be where court terms were a few weeks a year, but special terms take up an increasing chunk of the calendar.
“We have a grand jury June 12 and a jury trial scheduled for the 13th and 14th, and we’re going to be in court pretty much every week through the end of August,” she said.
“There was a time when there was Mary Alice, Doris and myself. We did it all. Now, the more technology advances, the more work we have to do,” Mosley said. “Now it would be impossible to keep up with the way we used to do it. We have six people, including myself.”
Among recent changes, criminal and civil records are available online now at deltacomputer systems.com, with other records soon to follow. In addition, Mosley is cross-training all employees so service is seamless even during absences and court terms.
There’s only been one surprise since Mosley was elected.
“We do a lot of appeals – I never realized how many,” she said, noting that each requires massive amounts of paperwork. “I had six waiting on me when I took office, and when I worked down to my last one, here came another one.”
Mosley’s status as Lafayette County’s first black countywide elected official has turned a few heads outside the county. At training for new circuit clerks in December, four other black clerks quizzed her about Lafayette County’s black population.
“When I told them it was probably between 30 and 34 percent, they said, ‘And you won?’ I said, ‘I don’t think race was a factor; I think qualification was the biggest factor for me,’” Mosley said.
“People are getting past all these antiquated ideas. I ran on my years of service here already, and I think the people of Lafayette County took that into consideration and voted for me.”