Black History Month Spotlight: Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell

By Hoge Fenton | 02.24.2022 | Firm Post

Hoge Fenton is pleased to spotlight LaDoris Hazzard Cordell in honor and celebration of Black History Month.

Cordell is a retired judge of the Superior Court of California, serving from 1982 until 2001, whom we featured on our Black Lives Matter: No More Happy Talk discussion on August 19, 2020.

Judge Cordell is a legal analyst and police reform advocate who appears on news networks such as NPR, CNN, and MSNBC on a regular basis. In her remarkable 47-year career, she was also a private lawyer, independent police auditor, city council member, civil rights consultant, and LGBT rights advocate.

Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 1974 she has devoted her career in law to creating greater access and equal justice for people of color and low-income individuals.

Judge Cordell made history by becoming the first female Black judge in Northern California state court in 1982. She was the state’s first judge to require that convicted drunk drivers install breathalyzers in their automobiles. Judge Cordell developed a well-received supervised visitation scheme for child custody cases, which has subsequently been implemented across the country. She was also the creator of the first judicial clinical program on judging.

Judge Cordell left her legacy at Stanford Law School by enrolling more Black and LatinX students than any top law school in the country, according to a Stanford News Service report, when she was assistant dean for student affairs from 1978 until 1982. She later returned to Stanford University in 2001 with her appointment as vice provost and special counselor to the president for campus relations, overseeing diversity and anti-discrimination measures across the university until 2009.

Judge Cordell was the first lawyer to begin a private practice in East Palo Alto, CA, a low-income community of color. In 2010, she was appointed the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose. Judge Cordell has a vast history of public service, having chaired panels looking into issues including jail violence and mental health care, as well as allegations of racism in the San Francisco police force. She has received numerous honors, including the William E.B. Dubois Award from the Silicon Valley NAACP, IOLA Williams Public Service Award, the National Council of Negro Women’s Public Service Award, the Legal Advocates for Children & Youth’s Social Justice Award, and the California Women Lawyers’ Rose Bird Memorial Award. The African American Donor Task Force was created by Judge Cordell to enhance black involvement in the national bone marrow registry. She co-founded the African American Composer Initiative and California Parks for All.

Now, an author, artist, vocalist, and pianist, Judge Cordell resides in California with her partner, and is the proud mother of two daughters and five grandchildren.

On October 26, 2021, she wrote an open and thought-provoking memoir about her 19 years as a judge in Santa Clara County. In Her Honor, Judge Cordell shares vivid stories of the cases that came through her courtroom, uncovering the strengths, flaws, and changes in our courts that were urgently needed.

“A brave, profound and affecting book that combines wisdom, candor, wit, and humanity in equal measure, Her Honor is a sterling embodiment of the meaning of judicial independence that should be required reading for law students and anyone interested in our system of justice.”

–Kathleen M. Sullivan, Former Dean, Stanford Law School

Learn more about Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell here.  Order Her Honor now.

Join Judge Cordell Sunday, February 27, 2022, at 4:00 pm at Sausalito Books by the Bay as she shares her new book, Her Honor.

Listen to an excerpt from HER HONOR written and read by @judgecordell here.

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