The trio of judges taking control of the investigation into the Police Department’s bigoted text message scandal come with years of experience in the justice system and have special interest in impartial policing.
LaDoris Hazzard Cordell is a former Santa Clara County Superior Court judge — she was the first black woman to hold the post — and former Palo Alto City Council member. She is currently San Jose’s independent auditor of police.
An avowed feminist and lesbian, the Oakland resident worked in East Palo Alto after graduating from Stanford Law School and has for much of her career fought for liberal causes. As a Superior Court judge, the Philadelphia-raised Cordell was a vocal opponent of three-strikes laws. In 1995, she quit as head of the Sierra Club’s Legal Defense Fund because she said the organization wasn’t doing enough for minority communities affected by environmental issues.
Following her judgeship, she was appointed in 2010 as San Jose’s independent auditor of police. At the time, some worried she would be biased against law enforcement because of her advocacy and activism.
“Am I biased against police officers? No,” she told the San Jose Mercury News in 2010. “Do I have concerns that perhaps police officers are not acting appropriately? Yes. Do I have concerns that people in the community are making bogus allegations not based on reality? Yes. One of my jobs as a judge was to weed out the bull.”
Southern California-raised former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso is equally known for his stance on liberal issues. As a teen, he pushed the U.S. Postal Service for free rural delivery to his hamlet outside of La Habra, and also sought to desegregate a local school. He was even the subject of the film “Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice,” which tells of his fight as a lawyer working for a rural legal defense, then as the first Latino state Supreme Court justice.
The former judge was later attacked by conservatives while on the bench for his stance against the death penalty and, along with two other justices who were viewed as too liberal, was ousted in 1996.
That same year, President Bill Clinton appointed Reynoso to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2000.
Judge Dickran Tevrizian was the first Armenian-American judge of a U.S. District Court, for the Central District, until he retired in 2007. His judicial career started when he was appointed as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1972.
In 2012, the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, which Tevrizian sat on, released a blistering report about wrongdoing at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Lee Baca.