Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell Named IPA

After the ousting of Barbara Attard two years ago, a false-start with City Auditor Chris Constantin and a prolonged “interim” period with Shivaun Nurre, the city of San Jose finally has a new independent police auditor—LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County superior court judge and former Palo Alto city councilmember.

Cordell spent 19 years on the bench as the first black woman judge in the Northern California and was the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law. She was the focus of a PBS documentary called “Color of Justice” about her detainment in South Africa after that county’s first Human Rights conference in 1988. She’s got a litter of awards to her name, and created programs such as the African American Donor Task Force and the Supervised Visitation Project, which places senior citizens in the room during visitations between abusive parents and children.

In a YouTube video of a Not in Our Town event, Cordell said, “Being heroic means standing up for what is right. It means speaking out when those around you are silent. Being heroic means putting a halt to behavior you know is hateful.” Those comments now take on new meaning as she assumes the IPA title in a community suspicious of its police force’s color blindness.

San Jose Police Officers’ Association President George Beattie would not comment on the appointment but wrote in a blog post on that “the SJPOA was barely included in the most recent selection process, even though we are one of the main stakeholders on this issue.” 

UPDATE:  Beattie responds: “I have serious concerns about Ms. Cordell’s ability to be independent and objective.  While she has a right to be associated with community groups that have historically been critical and antagonistic to our officers, this should raise questions about her ability to be objective, just as Chris Constantin was considered biased because of his relationships.  I consider this a double standard.”

Raj Jayadev, the coordinator of De-Bug, a grassroots community organization that is often critical of police conduct, says he does not know much about Cordell, but is feeling ambivalent about her appointment despite her credentials. “We could have Obama as the next IPA, but that doesn’t mean anything if they’re still cut at the knees,” he says. “The real question for me is whether the city council will allow LaDoris to do the job she’s supposed to do, to bring some trust and dignity back to the complaint process.”


  1. It is surprising that this lackluster Council would appoint someone who will clearly outshine them on every level. Her fairness, with nearly 20 years on the judicial bench, is unquestionable. Her strong personality and passion far exceeds any of our current Councilmembers.
    The expected hyperbole from the usual suspects does not change the fact that she is an excellent choice. Unfortunately, San Jose will find a way to screw this up and Cordell will probably want to look for greener (and smarter) pastures before too long. It will be the entire community’s loss.

    • I had the same reaction.

      I’m surprised that after all of the controversy associated with the IPA the council picked someone who is know to be outspoken and, as you correctly point out, has a resume that would be the envy of anyone on the council.

      IF Cordell makes waves the council will not have the sort of low-profile IPA that they had with Attard and Guerrero-Daley.

      This could get interesting!

  2. > Cordell spent 19 years on the bench as the first black woman judge in the Northern California and was the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law. She was the focus of a PBS documentary called “Color of Justice” about her detainment in South Africa after that county’s first Human Rights conference in 1988.

    Sounds like a Politically Correct space alien from the mothership of Political Correctness at Stan-Ferd.

    I’ll bet that she’s probably against racism.

    So, when she audits the San Jose Police, is she going to report back and say:

    A.) Oh, wow! Things are just hunky dory.  I didn’t find a speck of racism.  You folks didn’t need to pay me all that money, or

    B.) Omigod!! It’s worse than I thought!!  There’s racism everywhere!  Lucky for you, I got here just in time or the whole damn city would be going up in flames!

    I’m betting on “B”.

    One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
    “One is Evil –  It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt,  resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
    “The other is Good –  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,  generosity, truth, compassion and faith..”
    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?“The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  4. Council IPA vote was 8 – 3 to select Cordell

    Reed, Constant and 1 Council member voting No and South Bay Labor’s Council majority voting Yes

    Looks like Police Officers union was not supported by Council labor votes

    Police Officers now know who are their friends

    City employees will find out soon, when Council votes to layoff city employees rather cut millions tax subsidies

  5. Yesterday’s KLIV broadcast

    Written by Robert Kieve  

    What in the world is happening to San Jose’s city council? How could it have named, as the new police auditor, a person so highly unsuited for the job? That’s a question being asked this week by large numbers of people who know LaDoris Cordell’s record – including many who admire her intellect.

    Cordell has a remarkable resume. She’s been a judge, a Stanford provost, a member of the Palo Alto city council.

    Above all, she’s been the center of controversy. Many, if not most members of the legal profession will tell you that she is highly divisive. Indeed, they’ll tell you that with some passion and – in my experience, at least – with some unanimity.

    So that’s whom our city council has named to succeed an auditor it considered to be too aggressively seeking power. I love Scott Herhold’s observation that Cordell is Barbara Attard on steroids.”

    Like many others this week, I’m asking what is happening to our city council members? How could all of them, with the notable exceptions of Reed, Constant and Oliverio, have stumbled into this highly inappropriate appointment? Darned if I know.

    This is Robert Kieve, and that’s a personal opinion.

    Robert Kieve is the President of Empire Broadcasting. He wrote this article for

    • If I had seen this post from Bob Kieve before I posted (below) I may have just skipped my post; since I am in total agreement with Bob Kieve.

      I guess the question becomes what does the word “independent” in the title of IPA mean?  If it means not tied to the SJPD, it is accurate. If it means a neutral observer, then I find it difficult to believe that Judge Cordell, with all her intellect and expertise, is “independent”.  I tend to believe she comes with an agenda, and it will be far more potent than Ms. Attard’s agenda; and it will be SJPD will be held guilty until proven innocent with respect to any claim by a “person of color” against the SJPD. 

      Judge Cordell suffers from what many very bright, well-educated people suffer from—a short fuse when it comes to people with whom she disagrees.  Her mind is quick, and is made up quickly…and changing it is like reversing the flow of the Mississippi River. 

      I see a contentious 2 years ahead.  I’d rather be wrong than right on this call.

      • Well said. It seems ironic that the first candidate, who is the brother of a police officer, was disqualified because of a conflict of interest, yet Judge Cordell, who has her own agenda in the other direction, was deemed qualified by the same city council to be unbiased and objective. Absolutely ridiculous. This has to have a chilling affect on the rank and file officer, lest they be called on the carpet by the IPA.

  6. What were they thinking?

    The council does not renew Ms. Attard’s contract because she was trying to expand the power to the IPA.  Just what do they think Judge Cordell will do—lie down?  Judge Cordell has a far better resume and a far stronger will than Ms. Attard.

    So, what were they thinking?

  7. In the mid 80’s I worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Santa Clara County.One day I was sent to the Palo Alto Ct. Facility to act as Judge Cordell’s Deputy. When I knocked at the judges open door and explained that I was there to fill in for the Deputy who had called in sick. She looked at me and flatly stated “your not Black” I was so shocked at the comment that I thought she might be joking. So I stated no not today. She make it clear that she wasn’t joking by telling me that she wanted a black Deputy.I dismissed myself and advised her to contact the duty saddens me that she will be judging police officers. My question is who’s going to watch her.

    • Anonymous attacks are the way of this forum, but this one takes the cake.  This is quite an allegation and very hard to believe about a sitting judge.  Just remember, most of what one reads on the internet isn’t true.

      • Doubt It says, “Anonymous attacks are the way of this forum.” If you know something the rest of us don’t please share it.

        Calling a person who blogged an experience with this woman a liar is unfair don’t you think? Why not start by practicing what you preach. Sign your REAL name for starters; otherwise you’re a bit of a hypocrite aren’t you?

        • You ARE missing the point, Kathleen. There’s nothing wrong with reminding everyone to take statements such as “Hispanic POA Member’s” with a grain of salt. Just because you may happen to disapprove of the choice of Cordell as IPA doesn’t mean that “stories” that put Cordell in a negative light are necessarily true. One is entitled to disbelieve a random story such as this; in fact, in today’s divisive and, yes, hateful climate, to take such things as Gospel, especially when they satisfy your own personal thoughts about the subject matter, is to be grossly naïve.

    • > In the mid 80’s I worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Santa Clara County.One day I was sent to the Palo Alto Ct. Facility to act as Judge Cordell’s Deputy.

      To my knowledge, Judge Cordell has not responed to this specific assertion and therefore has not disputed it.

      So, the worthy citizens of Santa Clara County are now left to conclude that either:

      A.  A retired Superior Court Judge used explicit racial criteria to select her staff, or

      B. A retired Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff lied about his first hand observations of a Superior Court Judge.

      For sure, this seriously undermines the trust and confidence that the Santa Clara County government is entitled to from it’s citizens.

      But if also undermines the trust and confidence that citizens should hold for the San Jose City Council for not performing the political due diligence necessary to ensure that its appointee as the Independent Police Autditor is above reproach.

  8. JMO said, “So, what were they thinking?”

    I’m guessing but the assumption being here that they were? Thinking?

    My understanding is that her contract is only for 2 years not 4. If that is true, then it will be interesting to watch the next 2 years and what follows once her contract is or is not renewed.

  9. Wow..these post are quite interesting. Since I don’t know her personally, I don’t want to assume that she has a hidden agenda. As someone posted, you can’t believe everything you read or hear. It is up to the individual to do their own research before judging (no pun intended). As a society we are well known for “putting” mistakes in office. Time will tell if we have tripped over ourselves again.I can only hope that she makes a positive impact on our community. One of my favorite stories was posted about the “Two Wolves,” let us feed positivity into this situation. I am reminded of how no man is good enough for a man’s daughter, but at some point daddy has to give in. It seems that no person is good enough for office for some people, it is the way of the world and it keeps conflict and certainly communication going. If there is something that you don’t like, do something about it. Make a change yourself, offer to volunteer in your community or within her organization. I certainly plan to, my community and children are that important to me. Change is always necessary. Like everyone else, this is just “my opinion.”

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