Photo by Mallory Bailey
Growing up in rural Holmes County, Linda Anderson never dreamed she’d one day be an attorney, let alone a Federal judge. “There were no attorneys in my family, and we didn’t know any attorneys. There was no need for us to know any.” She grew up on a farm, and attended public schools before attending Holmes Junior College. Linda graduated from Jackson State University and was a school teacher for several years. “I taught elementary education, only because my mother pushed me towards music because she loved it so much!” Teaching was a natural profession for Linda, since she had so many strong role models including her mother and Sunday school teachers.
Married with two sons, Linda became interested in consumer law. She went to law school at Mississippi College while still working full time and raising her two little boys. It wasn’t easy, but she prevailed, graduating and working as a clerk at the Mississippi Supreme Court for two years before working in the Hinds/Yazoo County District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor.
Today she is a magistrate judge, a Federal position appointed by the judges of the Southern District. It is an eight-year-appointment, and Linda is now a year-and- a-half into her second term. “It’s the only Federal judge position that isn’t a life appointment, but the usual track is to be reappointed each eight years.”
The first time she put on her judge’s robes, Linda felt the full weight of the office and its responsibilities. “Having been a prosecutor, I found it fairly easy to move into the judge position where I was in the middle, advocating for both sides. Yet, the awesome responsibility hit me like a ton of bricks. What people are fighting for is liberty and property, which mean an awful lot.” Jackson has a great legal community, according to Linda. “I have been so pleasantly surprised by the entire Mississippi Bar. I continue to enjoy what I do almost every day. It never gets old—there’s always something new and challenging. And things are always changing and evolving with the law, particularly with the advent of the electronic age. It’s challenging keeping up with it!”
The magistrate court is the gateway court to the other three levels of Federal courts. “We hear Federal matters, criminal matters, issue arrest warrants, determine hearing dates and hear misdemeanors. In civil cases, we do a lot of discovery, and if both parties consent, we can try civil cases. We are the first persons a litigant sees in an initial appearance.”
When she hangs up her robe at the end of the day, Linda enjoys heading to her Jackson home and digging in her garden. “I guess I’m going back to my roots. We have started gardening and I get great satisfaction each day going out into the yard to see what’s happening.” She also enjoys traveling, reading when she can and spending time with her two grandsons.