Fixing the System
In leading an independent review of breakdowns in the wake of the Earl Bradley case, Linda Ammons drew upon her vast life experiences.
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“The report provided critical and appropriate recommendations in reforming the system to better protect the children of Delaware,” says Rita Landgraf, secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services. “Ammons’ legal perspective, as well as being independent from the system, allowed for an unbiased approach which proved to enhance protocols throughout the justice, medical and the state’s administrative systems.”
And now, the first African-American woman to lead Widener’s law school has become the first black woman nominated to be a federal judge in Delaware.
“I now see and understand why I went through certain careers and experiences,” she says.
Linda Ammons’ interest in law started as a child, largely because of her mother. “She should have been the lawyer,” Ammons says. “She would sit us kids around the table and throw out a discussion so we could debate it. There was a lot of critical grooming going on at that point in time, and my mother was always interested in the fairness, justice and legal side of things.”
Those discussions sparked an interest in most of the Ammons children. Among her four brothers are another attorney, a paralegal and a parole officer.
Yet Ammons didn’t pursue law immediately. She instead nurtured her love of reading and writing, which earned her a bachelor’s degree in English from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1974. During her junior year, Ammons began working for WAAY-TV as a desk assistant. Six months later she was promoted to field reporter. She stayed at the station after graduation and worked as an anchorperson and talk show host for the Alabama Public Television Network.
Ammons received a master’s in communications from The Ohio State University in 1980, intending to pursue the legal side of communications. But by the mid ’80s, after working as a publication specialist, continuity programmer and director of public affairs, she started itching for a change. Over her career she had interviewed several lawyers about high-profile trials, and she’d interviewed many political figures. “One day, a friend of mine at work said, ‘You ought to go to law school,’ and I thought maybe I should, so I did,” she says.
Ammons graduated from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1987, joined the Ohio bar, then served as executive assistant to Governor Richard F. Celeste. She worked in administration and regulatory and criminal law, and she dealt with organizations and agencies such as the National Guard, the Department of Insurance, the highway patrol, and building and permits.
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