LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School, was the first lawyer to open a law practice
in East Palo Alto, a low-income community of color. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant
Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law School, where she implemented a successful
minority admissions program.
In 1982, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Cordell to the Municipal Court of Santa
Clara County making her the first African American woman judge in northern California.
In 1988, Judge Cordell won election to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County.
In 2001, she retired from the bench to become Vice Provost & Special Counselor to
the President for Campus Relations at Stanford University. She left that position
In 2003, accepting no monetary donations, Judge Cordell, ran a grassroots campaign
and won a 4-year term on the Palo Alto City Council.
Judge Cordell was the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose for five
years (2010-2015. Under her leadership, the office gained national prominence.
In 2016, Judge Cordell chaired a Blue-Ribbon Commission in Santa Clara County that
investigated the jails in the aftermath of the murder of an inmate by jail guards;
she also served on a Blue Ribbon Panel that evaluated the culture of the San Francisco
Police Department after racist and sexist text messages surfaced.
In 2018, Judge Cordell was the voice of the opposition and campaigned vigorously against
the recall of Judge Aaron Persky.
Judge Cordell has been an on-camera legal analyst for CBS-5 television and a guest
commentator on programs such as Court TV, MSNBC’s “The Weekend with Joshua Johnson,”
and “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” as well as National Public Radio.
She is the co-founder of the African American Composer Initiative.
Judge Cordell is a mother who lives in Palo Alto with her partner of 30+ years. In
her spare time, Judge Cordell is a pianist, vocalist, portrait artist, cartoonist.
Her recently released memoir, Her Honor, a finalist for the California Book Award,
is published by Celadon, a division of Macmillan Publishing.