CARTHAGE — Longtime Carthage Attorney Rick McPherson has been tapped to help address a backlog of cases at the Panola County District Attorney’s Office.

McPherson, who already has started in his new role as assistant district attorney, will be focusing on misdemeanor cases and collecting bond forfeitures.

“He’s very competent. He’s very professional. He is fair-minded, and he’s got that word ‘experience,’” Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson said. “I am thrilled to have him be a part of our team.”

The District Attorney’s Office traditionally has had three prosecutors, including the district attorney. One position was lost several years ago as county officials tried to avoid a tax increase. Davidson said with the number of cases generated each month, his office was having to triage what to work on with the limited staff they had.

“You’re better off trying to work as many cases out,” he said. “You got to. I can (try) one case a week, 50 weeks — 50 cases. In two months, I’ve indicted more folks than I can get rid of in a year. That’s not good math.”

Davidson said McPherson will help address that backlog, especially on misdemeanor cases.

“I am excited,” McPherson said. “I’ve been practicing law for 42 years, and this is real, real different from anything I’ve ever done before. I think it’s kind of nice even at my age to be doing something different.”

McPherson, 68, was born in Panola County and raised in West Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1973 and Texas Tech University’s law school in 1976.

He started his legal career in Carthage under Crawford Parker, doing general practice.

“That has changed dramatically in 42 years,” McPherson said. “When I first started, we were expected to do whatever came in the door. Whatever they needed, whether you’d ever done it before, whether you had a clue what it was about, you were expected to get yourself up to speed and educate yourself and do it. And you could do that in those days.”

McPherson’s practice areas have included personal injury, criminal, family and probate matters. His main focus has changed over the years, but McPherson said he always has found criminal practice interesting.

McPherson will keep his private practice, though he is restricted to some probate and uncontested matters.

“I had to think about it pretty hard. I was torn,” McPherson said. “I enjoyed what I was doing already, but this was a chance to be doing something new, something different. ... I consider that quite an opportunity to be at 68 and be offered a brand new job.”