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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author.

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 an audiobook for anyone who wants to know what our legal system, for better or worse, means to the everyday lives of all Americans.

A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon Books

©2021 LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Enriched by intriguing case studies and Cordell’s no-nonsense manner, this is an accessible peek into the halls of justice." (Publishers Weekly)

"In her memoir Her Honor, the principled and uncommon retired California Superior Court Judge LaDoris H. Cordell offers an unvarnished peek into the mind of a jurist as she adjudicated within a legal system that is politically, systemically, and historically flawed. Narrated with candor and humor, and rich with tales from the bench and inside her chambers, Cordell unpacks her efforts to do both what is right and what is just, and to critique and improve upon a system even as she revered it. Revealing, engrossing, funny, and ultimately instructive, the memoir concludes with ten recommendations for judicial reform that all jurisdictions would do well to take up. A must-read about the ability of one person to stand up for justice both within the system and outside of it." (Julie Lythcott-Haims, New York Times best-selling author)

"LaDoris Cordell was the first Black woman judge in Northern California. In this remarkable book – part memoir, part insistence on reform, she tells it exactly how it is. Alternately searing and heartwarming, this is a book that will at one moment will make you shudder at the profoundly sad stories that find their way into our legal system, and tear up at others. This is one great read, and not to be missed." (Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law, NYU School of Law)  

What listeners say about Her Honor

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Great info about legal system

I really didn't know what to expect when I bought this book. I was pleasantly surprised. I loved seeing a judge's opinion about our legal system and I agree with all her changes. Definitely recommend reading.

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Legal System

She provides great insight to justice system how it works for all pple in the USA.

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A great book

This is a thoughtful critique of the legal/criminal justice system, including proposals for reform, by someone uniquely qualified to write such a critique and propose such reforms.

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She did it her way 👏


Awesome book explaining this unfair two tier system, worth reading 📚 this amazing book.

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Intriguing and easy to listen to

I thoroughly enjoyed this audible book. It was filled with lots of great stories and get insight into how old he judicial process work as well as some of the shortcomings that need to be corrected. Very enjoyable to listen to and I was inspired by the end of the book.

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Highly recommend

I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Her Honor at a book signing. Her story was compelling so I purchased the audio book. The book did not disappoint. The honestly told stories of the responsibilities of wearing the robe, sitting in judgement surprised me. I found myself cheering and then sometimes questioning. And learning. I recommend this book to anyone with interest in the law, had cases in front of any court and who often sit in judgment in everyday life. A great read.

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Must Read

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. It is well narrated and beautifully written. Being someone who works in healthcare, specifically psychiatry, I found the piece on mental health to be eye opening and something many need to hear. Thank you Judge Cordell for sharing this information and your stories with us in such a relatable and vulnerable way. I am recommending this to all my family and friends. This is a MUST READ!!

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We can do better. We must do better.

Precious, powerful piece of writing. I can’t help but imagine how this or that organization would be transformed by reading Judge Cordell’s book together. It is my top recommendation right now to friends, family, acquaintances, and random strangers. While I find the structure to be pure genius, the tone impresses me most. It’s difficult to balance this level of disappointment with unbridled hope. As a reader I grieved with the author but also with my own experiences and those injustices I have learned about over the years. The final vignette gave me all I needed to have a good sob and get back to the work - only wiser, stronger, newly inspired, and energized.

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compelling story

I've always been impressed by LaDoris Cordell's commitment to fair and equal justice and her story still continues as she takes us through the failures and successes of our legal system.

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Learned a great deal about the workings of the court system

This book was well-written & nicely organized, & Judge Cordell did a fantastic job narrating it.

There were several editing hiccups along the way with sentences recorded twice, but not enough to cause any major frustration.

Cordell takes us through her experiences as a magistrate and then trial judge, giving us a good look at all the types of courts under those umbrellas — juvenile, adoption, divorce, etc.

She then ends the book with a list of the top ten problems she sees in the court system in America and detailed explanations on how to fix them.

Her stories from her days as a judge were so interesting and entertaining that I was truly sorry to see this book end. Judge Cordell, please tell us more!