Candidate Questionnaire: Deborah McDonald

Photo courtesy Deborah McDonald

Photo courtesy Deborah McDonald Deborah McDonald

Fast Facts About Deborah McDonald


Deborah McDonald

Age: 61

Title of Specific District/Position Campaigning for:

Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge, District 2, Place 1

Educational Background:

Alcorn State University, B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1979 and University of Mississippi, J.D., 1982 (co-chair of Moot Court Board)

Professional Background:

Positions that I formerly held: 1982-1991 - Staff Attorney, Managing Attorney and Executive Director, Southwest Mississippi Legal Services Corporation.

Positions that I currently hold: 1991 - Owner, Law Office of Deborah McDonald; 1995 - Municipal Court Judge, City of Fayette; 1995 - Board Attorney for the Jefferson County Hospital and Jefferson County Nursing Home; 2012 - City Attorney, City of Port Gibson; 2016 - School Board Attorney, Hazlehurst City School District.

Member of the Mississippi Bar and Magnolia Bar Associations, former Board Member of the Mississippi Association for Justice (formerly known as the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association); Served as a lead attorney in the litigation that doubled the number of black legislators in the State of Mississippi; involved in the litigation of other social justice cases, including redistricting cases.

Place of Residence:

Fayette, Jefferson County, Mississippi

Spouse/children (if applicable):

Tahrik McClellan, son

If you have run for this judicial seat before, please state when. (If you are an incumbent, please cite years in current position):


List your endorsements:

Congressman Bennie Thompson, State Senator David Jordan, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Esq., Mayor of Jackson, Dr. William Truly, Mayor of Canton, Al Rankin Sr., of Greenville, Rev. Tracy Collins of East Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lorman, Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Walker, Copiah County Sheriff Frank Davis, Washington County Sheriff Milton M. Gaston, and many members of the Mississippi and Magnolia Bar Associations and friends.

The Jackson Free Press reached out to all judicial candidates who are running on the Nov. 6 ballot to represent jurisdictions throughout the Jackson Metro Area, regardless of whether they had a challenger or not. Each candidate received the same questionnaire. We've published their responses in full below, with minimal edits for editorial/reader clarity only. The JFP did not copyedit or line-edit candidate responses. The views expressed by candidates do not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.

Why do you want to serve on the Mississippi Appellate Court right now?

I have had the good fortune of a robust legal career that has spanned over 36 years. I have also been a municipal court judge for 23 years. Over the course of those years, I have been blessed to gain experience in so many diverse areas of the law. When I am elected to serve on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, I will use all of my knowledge and years of experience to fairly decide the cases that come before me.

How do you view the impact of a Mississippi appellate judge, and what would you bring to the role?

Mississippi appellate judges play a vital role in making sure that appeals are heard in a timely manner. The Mississippi Court of Appeals is the workhorse appellate court in our state and my work ethic and trial experience will be an asset for me as a judge on that court.

Provide one or two examples of your legal and/or judicial experience when you have made an impact in the state, and describe the result.

In the early 1990's, I was the only woman working alongside the "giants" of the civil rights era at the time - Hollis Watkins, Aaron Henry, Henry Kirksey, Attorney Carroll Rhodes, and Attorney John Walker - in bringing the litigation which doubled the number of black legislators in this state. But I am most proud of the impact that I have been blessed to have on the lives of every Mississippians. Over the years, people have come to me with legal situations that seemed hopeless or they had no confidence in our legal system. I am very proud of my work with Southwest Mississippi Legal Services where I was able to be a voice to countless marginalized people in our state. Currently, in my private practice, I continue to provide pro bono services to many families.

In the past year or so, what has been the most consequential/at-risk issue facing the appellate court, and what do you plan to do about it?

I believe that the Mississippi judiciary has worked hard on its access to justice initiatives, which I support wholeheartedly. For example, the Court of Appeals' Court on the Road program provides citizens a convenient way to observe oral argument and demystify what the Court actually does. Also, the Mississippi judiciary as a whole has worked to encourage local attorneys to perform pro bono services for needy families. When I am elected to serve on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, I will work to deliver timely opinions and to further assist in the courts' goal of providing access to justice.

What are the characteristics of a good judge, and how do your characteristics compare?

I believe that all good judges are those who are well-versed in the law and render decisions based only on the facts and the law. I will be both a fair and impartial judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. I will faithfully abide by all of the judicial canons of ethics and render decisions in cases without respect of persons. I will make all of my decisions based on law and precedent.

What sets you apart in this race?

I have varied legal experience from the courtroom to the boardroom. I have a social justice track record that has positively impacted the lives of Mississippians from all walks of life.

If you are unsuccessful in your race, how specifically will you continue working on behalf of the state?

I am keeping my eyes on the prize, however; what I believe in and stand for doesn't change based on circumstances. I am principled and committed and will continue to use my knowledge of the law for the betterment of Mississippi and her citizens.


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