Life Member

The Hon. LaDoris H. Cordell

Palo Alto, CA
Antioch College, BA Drama & Speech
Stanford Law School, JD


LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School, was the first lawyer to open a law practice in East Palo Alto. 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. In1988, Judge Cordell won election to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, making her the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court in northern California.

After 19 years on the bench, she retired and began employment at Stanford University as Vice Provost & Special Counselor to the President for Campus Relations. After eight years, she retired from that position in 2009.

In November 2003, Judge Cordell, accepting no monetary donations, ran a grassroots campaign and won a 4-year term on the Palo Alto City Council.

Judge Cordell has been an on-camera legal analyst for CBS-5 television and a guest commentator on Court TV. She has also interviewed public figures before live audiences, such as rapper Talib Kweli, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, New York Times columnist David Brooks, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, tennis star Billie Jean King, Professor Anita Hill, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!,  President Obama’s Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Lesly Stahl of “60 Minutes.”

Judge Cordell was the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose for five years (2010-2015), having been appointed to that position after a national search. Under her leadership, that office gained national prominence.

In 2014, Judge Cordell chaired the Task Force On Racial Discrimination at San Jose State University in the aftermath of the racial bullying of an African American student. The Task Force made numerous recommendations to improve the racial atmosphere at the university.

In 2015, Judge Cordell was appointed Chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Commission that reviewed the conditions in the jails in Santa Clara County. Under her leadership, the Commission put forward several recommendations to improve the operation of the jails.

In 2015, Judge Cordell served on a Blue Ribbon Panel that reviewed operations of the San Francisco Police Departments and make recommendations after the racist texting scandal involving several San Francisco Police officers came to light.

Among her many honors and awards, in 2014 Judge Cordell received the James McEntee Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award and the WEB Dubois Award from the Silicon Valley NAACP.

In 2015, Judge Cordell was given a Community Builder Award by Silicon Valley People Acting In Community. 

She was inducted into Stanford University’s Multicultural Hall of Fame in 2016, was named a Woman of Impact that same year by Notre Dame High School, and received the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU of Northern California.

In 2017, Judge Cordell was inducted into the Silicon Valley Black Legends Hall of Fame, received the Crystal Gavel Award from the California Association of Black Lawyers’ Judicial Section, was a recipient of a Leadership Award from the Office of the District Attorney of San Franciso.

Judge Cordell was featured in the February 2017 “Resistance” issue of SF Magazine.

She is the co-founded the African American Composer Initiative whose mission is to bring the music of Black composers, past and present to the world.

She is the judge on a new reality court TV series, “You The Jury” that premiered in 2017.

As importantly, Judge Cordell is a mother, grandmother, and lives in Palo Alto with Florence Keller, her partner of 30 years.






The Hon. LaDoris H. Cordell Image