JANS – Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Deborah McDonald of Fayette was recently honored by the Mississippi Center for Justice with its Pathfinder Award. Twenty years ago, Judge McDonald was among founding donors to the Mississippi Center for Justice. The organization was created to advocate for the rights of poor and marginalized people in areas such as health care, housing, wages, and voting.
Judge McDonald and a dozen others were honored with the Pathfinder Award at the Champions of Justice awards reception on Oct. 26 in Jackson. Judge McDonald was elected to the Mississippi Court of Appeals in November 2018 and began her service on the court in January 2019.
Judge McDonald began her legal career as an attorney representing the poor at the former Southwest Mississippi Legal Services in McComb. She worked for Legal Services for nine years, serving as staff attorney, managing attorney, and executive director. She entered private law practice in 1991. Her private practice areas included civil rights, employment discrimination, consumer law, personal injury, product liability, and family law. She did extensive work in voting rights litigation, including legislative redistricting.
She served as Fayette Municipal Judge for 23 years. She was attorney for Jefferson County Hospital and Jefferson County Nursing Home for 24 years. She was attorney for the city of Port Gibson for almost seven years, and represented the Hazlehurst School District for three years.
Judge McDonald grew up in Fayette and graduated from Jefferson County High School. She is a graduate of Alcorn State University, where she studied social science education. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where she served on the Moot Court Board. She is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and all state and federal courts of Mississippi.