Author image of Judge LaDoris Cordell and cover photo of her book Her Honor

Books Inc. is proud to be partnering with the American Association of University Women to host judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, and author of Her Honor!

In Her Honor, Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell provides a rare and thought-provoking insider account of our legal system, sharing vivid stories of the cases that came through her courtroom and revealing the strengths, flaws, and much-needed changes within our courts.

Judge Cordell, the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court of Northern California, knows firsthand how prejudice has permeated our legal system. And yet, she believes in the system. From ending school segregation to legalizing same-sex marriage, its progress relies on legal professionals and jurors who strive to make the imperfect system as fair as possible.

Her Honor is an entertaining and provocative look into the hearts and minds of judges. Cordell takes you into her chambers where she haggles with prosecutors and defense attorneys and into the courtroom during jury selection and sentencing hearings. She uses real cases to highlight how judges make difficult decisions, all the while facing outside pressures from the media, law enforcement, lobbyists, and the friends and families of the people involved.

Cordell’s candid account of her years on the bench shines light on all areas of the legal system, from juvenile delinquency and the shift from rehabilitation to punishment, along with the racial biases therein, to the thousands of plea bargains that allow our overburdened courts to stay afloat—as long as innocent people are willing to plead guilty. There are tales of marriages and divorces, adoptions, and contested wills—some humorous, others heartwarming, still others deeply troubling.

Her Honor is for anyone who’s had the good or bad fortune to stand before a judge or sit on a jury. It is for true-crime junkies and people who vote in judicial elections. Most importantly, this is a book for anyone who wants to know what our legal system, for better or worse, means to the everyday lives of all Americans.


"Her Honor is exceptional—an instant classic that will undoubtedly enter the canon of the greats of non fiction. I devoured it and loved every minute, laughing out loud at times, wiping away tears at others, and even mourning as I neared its triumphant ending. Thanks to this extraordinary book, I've become a more informed citizen. Judge Cordell is exactly what America needs right now.” —Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire and The Great Pretender

"Her Honor is essential and urgent reading. She shares the moments of warmth and humor, the unexpected victories, the redemptions—and the moments of fear, frustration, regret, and uncertainty. She asks us to stand by her side on the good days and the bad days, to confront the tragic choices and deep inequities, so that we may know the truth about our legal system and heed the call to make it better." —Adam Benforado, New York Times bestselling author of UnfairThe New Science of Criminal Injustice



Judge LaDoris H. Cordell is a legal commentator and police reform advocate, who is a frequent commentator on news outlets including NPR, CNN, and MSNBC. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she became the first African American woman jurist in Northern California, a position she held from 1982 to 2001. Prior to her time on the bench, she was the first lawyer to open a private practice in East Palo Alto, CA, a low-income community of color, and was an Assistant Dean of Stanford Law School where she implemented a highly successful minority admissions program. Following her retirement from the bench, she was a Vice Provost at Stanford University and, in 2010, was appointed the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose. Judge Cordell's public service record spans decades, during which time she has overseen commissions that investigated violence and mental health care in the jail system, as well as accounts of racism in the San Francisco police department. She has received numerous awards, including Silicon Valley NAACP’s William E.B. Dubois Award, the Iola Williams Public Service Award, the National Council of Negro Women’s Public Service Award, the Social Justice Award from Legal Advocates for Children & Youth, and the Rose Bird Memorial Award from the California Women Lawyers. Judge Cordell founded the African American Donor Task Force to increase black participation in the national bone marrow registry. She is the co-founder of the African American Composer Initiative and CA Parks for All. An artist and pianist, she resides in California with her partner and is the proud mother of two daughters.

Event date: 
Saturday, May 20, 2023 - 1:30pm
Event address: 
480 E Meadow Dr
Palo Alto, CA 94306
Her Honor: My Life on the Bench...What Works, What's Broken, and How to Change It By LaDoris Hazzard Cordell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250269591
Availability: In Stock Now - Click Title to See Store Inventory. Please allow up to 48-hours for Curbside Pickup orders to be processed.
Published: Celadon Books - August 2nd, 2022