March 20, 2023

A Champion for the Rule of Law at Home and Abroad: Massachusetts Lawyer and Retired Justice Robert J. Cordy

A Champion for the Rule of Law at Home and Abroad: Massachusetts Lawyer and Retired Justice Robert J. Cordy

Democracies are fragile things. Many of us who pay attention have watched democracies rise and fall. So far, American democracy has survived attempts to weaken it, but no one can guarantee its continued survival.

Two of the pillars of democracy are a free press and an independent judiciary. Those pillars often are the first targets of world leaders who want to weaken their countries’ democracies and establish autocratic rule. It takes people with vision and courage to push back against anti-democratic forces and shore up the freedoms that "we the people" too often take for granted.  

Bob Cordy is one such person. A former public defender, turned federal prosecutor, turned a Republican governor’s chief legal counsel, turned an associate justice of his state’s highest court, Bob has become a go-to lawyer for foreign countries seeking to root-out corruption in their court systems and keep their courts independent from the other branches of government. In the early 2000s, he was part of extensive but ultimately failed efforts at establishing judicial independence in Russia and Turkey, then helped lead a successful anti-corruption effort in the courts of Uzbekistan, and for the past few years has worked with an international team making great inroads at eliminating corruption in the courts of Ukraine. 

In the first half of this episode of Higher Callings, I ask Bob about how he advanced from his humble beginnings as a public defender ultimately to become a respected member of his state’s highest court. In the second half of the episode, we talk about Bob’s work overseas, the weakening of democracies around the world, the importance of preserving a strong, independent judiciary in our own United States, and the crucial role of lawyers in accomplishing that indispensable goal.

You can find Bob's law firm biography here.

You can find a story about Bob's 2018 lecture at Boston College Law School here.

You can find Bob's published article about the interdependent relationship between the free press and an independent judiciary here.