Justice Center tower dedicated to Lee County’s first Black judge

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Paul Dolan
Judge Isaac Anderson, Jr.

Late Judge Isaac Anderson, Jr. was well known and admired in Fort Myers, Lee County, and throughout Florida. Judge Anderson became the county’s first African-American judge.

He worked as a county judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit from 1981 to 1991 and as a circuit judge from 1991 to 2007, according to a statement by his wife Audrea Isaac Anderson. Anderson was appointed to the county bench in 1981 and in 1982, he was elected and won 79% of the county-wide vote.

Now, the building where Anderson broke barriers will bear his name. On Tuesday, the county held a dedication ceremony at the Justice Center to honor Judge Anderson. His reputation is well understood throughout Southwest Florida and his efforts to improve his community the best way he could, through justice.

According to Audrea Anderson, the judge developed his passion and work ethic by joining the US Air Force. He volunteered for two tours of duty in Vietnam.

“It means a lot. It is not lost on us and it certainly was not lost on my father that we live in Robert E. Lee County, that this is an area where very very very few Black people are celebrated,” said Anderson’s son Justin.

He obtained his law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. Once admitted to the Florida Bar, Judge Isaac Anderson, Jr. ran a general law practice on Main Street.

The Judge was fair but firm, often heard telling first offenders “Do not appear before me again,” according to his wife’s statement.

“Even the people that got sentenced came back and thanked him because they said it changed their lives,” said Anderson’s wife Audrea Anderson.

His wife said she remembers the moment he started in Lee County. The moment he made history in his hometown.

“It was his dream job,” said Audrea Anderson. “It gave the community an uplift because they felt represented in the justice system.”

That inspired other African Americans to follow in Judge Anderson’s footsteps in law.

“He was an immediate role model for me because he is from Fort Myers. I am from Fort Myers, so he sets the standard for the professionalism in the practice of law,” said Attorney Joe North.

Anderson also worked to improve the shortage of decent affordable housing, according to his wife. He served as president of the Kiwanis Club East and was a member of the founding chapter of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association, which has since been renamed the Judge Isaac Anderson Jr. Bar Association, according to his wife’s letter.

“It is important for the community to know that everyone, everyone if they pursue and our focus can do and be anything in our community,” said Audrea Anderson.


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